Brighton School has been under the mandates of School Improvement for the last four out of five years. For two years, the school has offered school choice as an option. As a result, we have lost about eighty students a year to other schools. Supplemental Services have been added and this year the first phase of restructuring the staff began as a new principal was hired. There was great difficulty in finding a principal for the school and it was ten days prior to school starting before a principal was in place. The teachers and the community became very frustrated with this process. I am sure this is a common problem in hard to staff schools. By some very unique events, one of my former principals was finally hired. I can not tell you how glad I was to hear Margie Curry’s voice on the phone when she called and told me the news. As I recorded in my journal, “A miracle-Ms. Curry is going to be my principal. Oh me of little faith!”
On the downside of this good news, Ms. Curry immediately asked me to change from my teaching position in Second Grade Teacher to Curriculum Coordinator for our K-8 school. I was really looking forward to having my own classroom again. I had recruited my son to come from Tennessee and help me get my room ready. In fact, we were both covered in paint when I received her call. At the time, I did not feel I could refuse her anything knowing how far behind we were in being prepared to open school. Furthermore, I thought this could possibly be the opportunity I had searched for to use the knowledge I gained in earning my Doctorate in Educational Leadership with the emphasis on Teacher Leadership. Maybe now I would have a chance to really see if a teacher without becoming an administrator can become a true school leader.
I started my first day at Brighton full of high hopes and lots of positive energy. I am one of those people who usually sees the glass half full. I inherited this “pie in the sky” attitude from my father who at 88 years-old wakes up everyday and says, “It’s a new day!” When I reflect on how I must have appeared to the faculty on that first day, I know now many of the teachers would echo what my brother said about my father’s cheery outlook, “Can’t he just wake up one day and not be happy!” I am sure I totally irritated the teachers as I gave the morning inspiration about how happy I was to be a part of their school and how I had made a special trip to the Shrine of the Sacred Hearts in Hanceville, Alabama to pray for our year. It is not that prayer is not valued, but this is really the last thing you want a pious newcomer say to you when you have been trying to survive in a school labeled failure. I really owe the faculty and staff an apology. I had no idea the stress involved in working under these conditions. I actually thought I had the answers needed to turn this school around. The afternoon of the first day, I began to understand how little I knew.
I will be posting updates about my experiences at Brighton every week and I would like to hear your comments and questions.