“Just Call Me Old School”

By Leslie Oxedine Kelley
I have worked in Title I schools my entire career. I too have kept a clothes closet and a drawer full of personal hygiene products and another of school supplies. I had two marvelous principals before this age of ladder climbing, politically correct sheep. One man took money from his own pocket to send the PE teacher shoe shopping for a family of six kids (on school time no less). The other gentleman gave a mother his own money to take her kids to the doctor. These same men never said more to me than, “you are doing a great job”, “There’s been a little problem and you need to fix it.” and, “I hired you as a professional. Handle it”. Those are quotes I recall more than 20 years later. Those were my first two public school jobs. I was so spoiled by their support that after them I struggled with the new breed of administrator. How I missed them, as did everyone else.

Dr. Jay Arnold passed away after many of us had moved on. His funeral was like a family reunion. We got so loud greeting and loving one another after years apart, then crying for our loss, that the funeral home attendants asked us to go outside. About 40 people went out. Dr Arnold (and Harry Fuller before him) fostered that love by setting the tone in our buildings. Both men treated the faculty and students with genuine concern for our well being. They cared about all of us…more than their own career, political correctness or any flippin data. I loved my job then and I would have gone to great lenghths to do anything those men asked of me.

I know there are MANY teachers out there just like this and I hope administrators as well. It has just been my personal experience to have worked for principals who are bound up in the political mess public education has become. I would LOVE to meet the one who says, “to hell with the games. This is what our kids need…regardless of what outsiders think we need.” then hunkers down, unites the community (at least within the schoolhouse), and loves kids again. I understand love doesn’t cure everything, but it sure goes further than this “OMG public education Is failing and it’s all YOUR fault” attitude prevalent today. Just call me old school.

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