Friday, February 21, 2014

Beware of the sleeping dragon

It is so surreal how my life is turning out.

I owe you like 3 backed posts on really important subjects. But this recent series of events kinda took over my life for a minute. So it definitely needs to be addressed.

Last week, I got a phone call. The mom on the other line told me that 4 teachers had been given non re-elect notices. Meaning they had been fired or not invited to return the following year. She asked me if I would be willing to write a letter on the teachers behalf. At the time only one of the teachers was very special to me. So instantly I freaked out of course. I attempted to track down parents I knew also loved this teacher. We all wrote letters on her behalf to give to the superintendent that day. This all happened in a matter of a couple of hours. That whole night was phone calls of updates and outrage. Everyone asking "What can we do?" those words immediately turned into

 "What are we going to do?"

 I was still on the phone late into the night listening to their heartbroken colleagues. The way they were treated was so disrespectful. All for no reason. The superintendent actually said "Its not personal, it's business." I'm still trying to wrap my head around that. When you fire someone it effects them and their families and their students. How is that not personal? The teachers were told that their best course of action would be to resign. Because it would appear better to resign than to get fired. 

The next morning, I spoke with a few parents and we decided we'd talk later with a plan of action. But before that happened my co-captain in all things PTA went ROGUE! She was so angry that she and her kids were in front of the school picketing alone. A mom, her babies and, a sign. That was all it took for the rest of us to jump up and run to help. A handful of parents in front of 2 different schools picketing. Parents were picking up there children. And we were making sure that they all got the message about what was happening in our small town. While we were getting the message out there some good things were happening for one teacher. The teacher who brought us into the fight was saved. The superintendent had made a mistake and she already had tenured. She would not be fired after all. But that was far from the end of the fight we were now so invested in .Some helpful elves contacted the media and, before long the local news station was calling. The next morning we did an interview in front of one of the schools. At five o clock on Valentines day the story was on the news. (Action news report) A group of parents and children who loved their teachers. So much in fact that they spent Valentines morning picketing in front of an empty school. 

Our group of parents and teachers spent the next 4 days distributing phone numbers of the school board members. We talked to anyone who would listen and urged them to call and help fix this. Together we started to plan how we would attack the school board meeting scheduled the following week. Who would speak on behalf of the teachers? Whose words would cut through the hearts of board members? We gave out email addresses and asked everyone to contact the newspaper with a letter to the editor. We found out you don't mess with a small town newspaper editor. The editorial she wrote was amazing and inspiring (How to get a community's back up). 


Tuesday morning, when school came back, we were picketing again. This time we made sure it was right in front of the district office. We wanted the superintendent to see us out his window. Although, that wasn't necessary with all the cars honking in support. There was no way to miss the vehicular high fives. 



That afternoon we returned again to picket in the same spot. We watched the 3 teachers walk into the district office. A large group of teachers waited off to the side. They asked us to stay and wait for the teachers to come back out of the office.....because there might be good news. Nothing I write could convey the magical moment we all shared. All of the teachers were reinstated, apologized to and, will receive tenure. 
A picture I took of the teachers celebrating


The truth is I had lost faith earlier in the day. My mom baked me my favorite cake. She knew how scared I was and how stressed the fear was making me. When I saw the cake I started crying. What if all our work wasn't enough? What if they really do lose their jobs? How could we fail them and ever look at them again?

But that didn't happen. The unexpected, the unbelievable happened instead. We won. 

I have never been so proud to be a part of something. 

Earlier in the week I found a pin. It has a mustard seed suspended in air. And I was reminded of what it represented. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move a mountain. We truly made a difference.

You should never wake a sleeping dragon, unless you're prepared for the fire they'll bring.