This morning, I happened to find out about yet another phenomenal teacher leaving our district. This teacher happens to be an amazingly strong advocate for her students, her parents and for her profession. She’s also one of the sweetest and most caring people you’d ever have a chance to meet. So, when SJK received the following email a few minutes ago, it certainly resonated.
We are losing our teachers. We are losing amazing resources for our kids. This is not acceptable.
Mr. McMinimee –
I read the June edition of Chalk Talk, as I always have. Even though my daughter has graduated, I continue to read this newsletter as I have for 13 years. In June though, I read it and was struck by something at the end of your Superintendent’s letter that didn’t really sit well with me. But, it was a busy day and I went on to continue tackling my overflowing inbox. Later, I went back to it and since have honed in more closely about why this particular statement bothered me so much that I now feel it would be remiss not to speak up.
“We kept the best teachers. While turnover is at a 15-year high in the teaching industry, our teacher turnover is less than the state average and only slightly higher than years past. We are thrilled that our dedicated teachers will return next year.”
To look at it simply from a statistical point of view, it sounds no different than any other report that may come out from a CEO or other leader regarding a particular situation in their organization. And, I imagine that the statistically measurable points are accurate. But, there is a piece of that statement that isn’t accurate or measurable at all. You didn’t keep the best teachers, nor is it possible to measure the impact of losing some of the best teachers. And, simply looking at teachers as statistics does an enormous injustice to our exceptional teachers and the students they are charged with inspiring and educating.
I have a daughter who worked extremely hard through school, took honors and AP courses, had an exceptional amount of school spirit, was a dedicated athlete and has now achieved her dream of graduating high school and moving on to college as a Division I athlete. She’s a great success story out of Chatfield Senior High.
However, if you were to simply look at her statistically you wouldn’t match her to who I just described. You’d assume that academically she’s average. When looking at test scores, you’d see she’s slightly less than average when compared to her peers statewide. And her ACT and SAT scores were only slightly higher each time attempted them.
Thankfully, her teachers, some of the best teachers, never looked at her simply as a statistic. When her test grades weren’t what she wanted, they took extra time to work with her and to encourage her to keep up the hard work. When she spent late nights with a tutor after a long practice, they applauded her efforts. When she thought she wasn’t smart enough for an AP government class, they reminded her that she is smarter than she gives herself credit for and she did extremely well in the class. Without these teachers, she may not have graduated with a just slightly above average 3.2 GPA. And, while some of those teachers, some of the best teachers, are staying, others are not.
One in particular, one of the best teachers, is among the 17 or so I have learned are leaving Chatfield. This is a teacher who my daughter had for three semesters of English, subsequent to a very difficult semester for which she received a C. But, this teacher never assumed that an average student is always average. This teacher looked beyond the scores and found a student who loved participating in class, loved learning, always turned in her work and found that by recognizing those efforts, was able to inspire her to work even harder to make adjustments to her writing and earn higher test scores. When she missed the mark on an assignment, this teacher spent time outside of class to quickly address the problem so that the same issue didn’t continue to occur. This teacher cared about her students outside of class and showed up early on NCAA signing day to watch our daughter and the other students sign their letters of intent. Because of this teacher, she not only earned A’s and B’s in English the rest of high school, but drastically improved the writing skills she needed in other classes and that she’ll need in college. We didn’t keep this teacher.
I can’t profess to know the specific reasons many exceptional teachers have left, although one would have to be wearing blinders not to acknowledge the influence of a contentious political environment and serious uncertainty as to what their future holds based on current circumstances. But, regardless of opinions on that topic, to reduce the subject of large numbers of teachers leaving Jeffco as a simple statistic, with the absurd assumption that the best ones stayed, lacks accuracy and frankly, respect. Not to mention, I find it slightly offensive you seem to think I’m so oblivious that I’ll be easily appeased with a few numbers and blanket statement. Don’t tell me we kept the best teachers, because I, along with parents across Jeffco, know that’s not true.
Mr. McMinimee, I am not a teacher, I have never been a teacher and quite honestly, I have no desire to be a teacher, so I can’t speak for teachers. But I can speak about them. They work every day to see their students as more than what they add up to on paper so that they can become exceptional people. This is why our Jeffco families, our students in particular, love and respect their teachers. This is why you saw our students line the streets. This why families in our community will continue to speak out and work to return our schools to a system based on partnership not political agendas. To slight our teachers by reducing them to numbers on paper, means you will continue to lose your best teachers – because the best teachers know they are worth more than that.
Proud Jeffco Parent
We are disheartened that district resources would be used to attempt to mislead parents. However, we are proud that Jeffco stands up and sees through the messaging and manipulations and that this community continues to stand up for our kids!
We won’t be distracted or mislead. We want accountability back!
Certainly these folks realize that the Jeffco parents and community are a force to be reckoned with? Jeffco parents are informed, engaged, and well-educated. We did NOT lose our ability to decipher information when we had children and we recognize misinformation when we see it. We live it in the schools every day with our children and will allow no one to interfere with the best interests our Jeffco kids. Using district resources to spread political messaging, a violation of policy, was a very poor choice.
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