Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What I Miss

I miss so many things about Montclair.  After 22 years, I made a great many dear friends and met so many remarkable people and teachers.  I miss many who have retired, Joe Macaluso, Dennis Murray, Phil Easton, Ed Lebida, Frank Green, my close friends in guidance, Shirley and Nedra, and the rest of the guidance staff, so many great teachers, people like Peter Guiffra, to so many wonderful students and parents I met as a counselor, a coach and as guidance director.  I miss the calm wisdom of Helen Kuryllo and Petal Robinson, the passion of Anna Pancheckha and Jonathan Mancinelli, the 'professors' Jonathan Meyer and Greg Woodruff, my friends George Burroughs and Jim Aquavia.

But I do not miss anyone in the administration.  Really, I really cannot tell you how much I do not miss them.  Well, not all, I have nothing bad to say about my dealings with Felice Harrison, she has always been a decent person, and Gail Clarke is one of the more competent administrators in the district.  John Jeffries and Damien Cooper are both decent guys, though John can be really mercurial.  I am really sorry for what I posted about Damien.  I took stuff from my computer to my blog and I was really careless.  I am talking about the people who thought they needed to show me how they were the boss:  Penny, Eileen, James, Shirlene.  They're not all bad people.  I meant it when I told James I would be thrilled with him as a neighbor, as a friend, as a relative.  He is a great guy one-on-one.  He is honest, he is caring, he is intelligent.  As a principal, not as much.  When he brought John Jeffries in, John would tell us, watch out when James gets tenure, and this was really offensive.  Tenure is to reward you for what you've shown and to expect more of it.  James has this weird view that there is some kind of incongruity between loving your job and doing well in it.  He is of a world where if you get a paycheck, you should accept what is given you.  And to be fair, its what he expects of himself.  He does not need praise or recognition or appreciation to do his job, and he treats others that way.  I've heard he's more engaged with the teachers lately, and that's a great thing.  He has it in him, but has to really believe it is important that teachers are loyal to him not because they are afraid of the consequences of being disloyal, but because they share in a mission with him.  To be honest, I don't know that he has that in him, but I am encouraged by what I've been hearing.

Neither Penny nor Eileen have ever showed me in any way that they had any concern about students.   They both have the off-putting distance that's almost creepy, not the kind of people I would want my kids to grow up to be like.  Why would we ever have a superintendent who does not model the character that we would want in our children?  I simply don't get it.  To break the unions?  To show your resentment of tenure?  Have our leaders really bought into the corporate, Race to the Top, top down control of education?

Oh my god, I cannot tell you how nice it is to be in Morristown!  They are really decent, nice people in the administration.  There is dignity and respect everywhere.  And fun.  Oh how I missed the fun. You know what is missing in Montclair now:  Dignity and Respect....and a Soul.  They are promoting an atmosphere where there is not kindness or caring or even humanism.  There view of caring is safety, their view of performance is test scores.  Its really scary.  We in Morristown have the same SGO's and the Common Core and the PARCC Assessments, but we haven't abandoned the emphasis on these overshadowing creating thoughtful and sincere and kind kids.  Thankfully, this does not seem to have affected all schools.

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