I have finally had my last day at Arlington High School and just got back from Nebraska. The last day of school was on June 22nd and I have to say I was not sorry to leave. Having also just spent the last week in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, I am looking forward to our big move at the end of July.
The end of my time at Arlington went very well. The last week and a half of school was dominated by the Regents Exams. These went very well for my classes. For my Global Studies II students, I had an 83% pass rate, which was pretty good considering the students I had to deal with this year. Every one of the students who I predicted would fail, failed the state Regents Exam and almost all failed my class as well.
To be honest, I do not feel sorry for a lot of those kids. Many of them were disruptive, annoying, little punks who wasted my time as well as their own. Most of the kids who passed deserved to pass and I am happy for them. There was one student who had worked hard all year and ended up on the borderline between pass and fail. The good thing was that I was able to find the points she needed to pass, so I was happy for her. She was so worried about failing, but, after all the work she put in, she deserved to pass.
The one thing that bothered me in the last week was that several teachers in my department did not get good pass rates in their classes. One teacher, who has been at the school for the last seven years, and who is a excellent teacher, had a bad pass rate in his U.S. History classes. He was losing sleep about it and stressing out because of how the administration might react. Honestly, this is one of the reasons I am leaving this district. If your students get poor grades, then the teacher is the one to blame. It does not matter if you had poor students or even a class of special needs kids. They DEMAND that you get them through the Regents Exam and have a passing rate at least in the mid-eighties.
If this does not happen, you get yelled at by the department Coordinator and threatened with your job. They also go on about your reputation and how it will suffer because your students have poor grades. What I think was really going on is that the school administration was really concerned about its reputation and boosting its ranking in the U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Schools” annual review.
So, if there is ever a problem or issue, then the administration finds some one (usually teachers) to blame. I personally find the school and the district very unprofessional in this regard and find it amazing that the Principal recently won a major award based on the great job he was doing at the school. I guess those who gave him the award did not visit the school or speak to any of the teachers because, if they did, then I don’t think he would have that award.
My penultimate day at Arlington was spent gathering all my things and clearing out my desk. As I was doing this, one of my fellow teachers in the Social Studies Department came to my room to present me with a $30 gift card to Borders bookstore. I thought this was a very nice gesture. The little note that came with it said from all your colleagues in the Social Studies Department, but I cannot help but think that is not totally true. There were several people in the department I did not know very well and some a did not feel comfortable around me, but it was still nice to get the gift card.
After I was given the card, the teacher talked to me about some of the things that were going on at Arlington, most of it not good, including the situation with the football coaches who had all just been fired because last season the team had a 3-8 record. It was typical that they would be fired months after the season ended. Worse is that many of the coaches depend on the extra 5-10k a year that a coaching job is worth. Many of them depended on that money to support their families. Again, someone else gets the blame and the administration does what it can to save its reputation.
The last day at Arlington consisted of the usual, which means waiting around for three hours until we get an announcement to go to the last faulty meeting of the year. I did not pay attention to most of it but I did listen when the Principal announced the retirements and the people who were leaving. I was surprised by a few names because I did not expect them to leave, but saw them as lifers at the school. All I can say is good for them
After the meeting, my three years at Arlington High School were over and I went to the mail room to pick up my final checks, said my goodbyes, and then it was off to Scottsbluff, Nebraska!