No, the title is not a reference to the recent passing of Ed McMahon or the break up of Jon and Kate. No, it is a reference to a much more serious issue: the disintegration of the private school I used to work at, Albany Academy for Girls (AAG).
Teaching at AAG was a very unique experience. The job entailed far more than simply teaching Geometry and Calculus. It involved being part of a team that molded its students into confident, independent, free-thinking, and deep-thinking young women, tomorrow's scientists, poets, doctors, authors, artists, etc... This process is far too complex and detailed to describe here, but needless to say, it involved an incredible amount of work and dedication on the part of the faculty.
In my last year of teaching at AAG three years ago, it merged with the all-boys school across the street, Albany Academy, forming "The Albany Academies". Unfortunately and coincidentally, the Head of both schools retired at the end of the year as well, resulting in an interim Head of School being hired and a restructure of the administration.
People that I know who don't like sports can't understand my fascination with them, but the sports world can be a metaphor for the "real" world. The perfect analogy here is the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. For many years, Michael Jordan* threatened to retire if Coach Phil Jackson** was not brought back to coach the team. Jackson used Jordan's support to leverage lucrative coaching contracts that made him the highest-paid coach, by a mile, in the NBA. During the '97-'98 season, General Manager Jerry Krause finally tired of dealing with Jordan and Jackson, and hired Tim Floyd*** for the following year, exclaiming he was the perfect candidate to rebuild the Bulls in the post-Jordan era. After winning their 6th championship in 8 years, Jordan retired as promised when Jackson was not asked back. What followed was as predictable as it was laughable and sad. The Bulls were as bad as Jordan and Jackson's teams were good. Floyd left within two years after piling up an ungodly amount of losses, and Krause left in 2003 after having turned the team into one to the league's biggest laughingstocks.
Yesterday I found out that the Social Studies teacher who worked next to my classroom has had her contract rescinded for next year, that is, she will not be returning. Let me back up a little bit here.
This former colleague of mine is/was everything AAG could ever ask for or hope for in a teacher. She was hard working, strong, confident, intelligent...the list goes on and on. She was from my perspective, the best role model AAG could ever hope for. The girls loved her. Loved. Her.
So what happened? There was some conflict between her and the new administration. Internet etiquette prevents me from giving details, but I can assure you she was right, they were wrong. Now, she's been told she will not be returning because of her "unprofessional" behavior.
So why do I care, you might ask. After all, I live literally 1000 miles away, and I don't work there anymore. She and I weren't even especially close - she taught social studies, I taught math. One reason I do care is that I was once part of a great team that did a great job not just educating students, but helping them become, truly become, all that they could be. It saddens me to see the great place I used to work at become a shadow of its former self.
But the sadness is nothing compared to the anger. Anger over what? Anger over the lies! Whose lies? I will not mince words here: Interim Head of School Richard Barter's lies, School Administrators Anastasia Giordano and Scott Milliken's lies! The lies of cowards, all three! I am angered that administrators, not just at AAG, but everywhere, have this power to lie and push through their petty agendas. These lies belittle the accomplishments and dedication, not just of my former colleague, but everyone who works or worked there and sends the My-Way-Or-The-Highway message clearly intended to squash future conflicts. And, unlike Phil Jackson, who had millions of dollars to fall back on until the perfect job came up, if this decision stands, she will have to start job hunting soon.
What angers me even more than lies, though, are bold face lies. Those are lies that are told knowing that those listening will recognize them to be lies. Bold face liars rely on the reluctance of their listeners to have a confrontation on the lies. I really hate that. There is not a single student, teacher, or parent that believes my former colleague has an unprofessional bone in her body. Everyone knows it, and yet the lies...
So what's going to happen now? The AA community is in turmoil. It would take a mature person, a person of character, to admit he or she made a mistake and correct that mistake. I wish I could see it happening, but I don't. These cowards almost certainly will dig their heels in deeper, give meaningless, vague PR nonsense as answers to any questions, hope to survive the initial wrath of the AA community, and most certainly continue their legacy of poor decision making. If this decision stands and you hear,"Oh, we can't talk about personnel decisions" what they are really saying is, "We can't lie about the situation publicly or we'll be sued for libel and slander."**** What cowardice!
If this decision stands, my former colleague will become a valuable asset at some other school starting next year. After all, the Bulls' loss was the Lakers' gain. Years from now she may smile at the thought that this administration ran the school into the ground like Krause's Bulls were, and that she was at least spared that experience. I hope that if enough of a spotlight is shone, if enough hell is raised, that those in the wrong will see the error of their ways, and that she will be asked back, but of course, it's completely out of my hands.
Former Mathematics Instructor at Albany Academy for Girls
* You may have heard of him. He was only the NBA's greatest player.
**You may have heard of him. He is arguably the NBA's most successful coach, having coached a record 10 championship teams, including recently, his 4th since leaving the Bulls.
***You may have heard of him. He recently left the USC basketball program in shambles in the face of almost certain NCAA sanctions.
****I fear no libel and slander accusations in posting this as the truth is an absolute defense against libel and slander.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Prepare To Be Amazed
You better sit down. OK, are you relaxed? Need your heart medication? No? OK then, check out the picture below. It's a doorway. Only there's no door right? I mean, there couldn't possibly be room for a door!
Next is the same doorway, only, suddenly there's a door! How could this be? There aren't even any hinges. Did a magic door fairy suddenly install a door? Sort of - it's my 12 Shades of Awesome Pocket Door! Well, it still needs a coat of paint (the molding too), but it's essentially done! I know, I am awesome.
This Past Weekend
The G-Train really, really, really, really wanted to see the Celtic Woman. So I got us some tickets - front row, center section tickets baby! It was all pretty cool. I got to hang with some relatives, had caviar for the first time in my life - good times.
That Drysdale Better Still Be Shiny, Falwless!
My cat - what a goofball! Honestly, where does he get it from?