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Contract Non-renewal: What Do I Say?

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A RECENT QUESTION FROM A READER:

How would I present information about a contract non-renewal in a positive way to prospective schools? All applications ask this and I am worried I will not receive consideration. I do have a reference from my supervisor. The non-renewal was due to differences with the priest (Catholic School).

RESPONSES:

Prospective employers will be interested if you have had a contract non-renewal due to performance or behavior. I think the best way  to address this is to be honest about the circumstances. You would need to disclose that you did experience a non-renewal. If it was at the end of a contract year that is usually better than during the school year as it may look to a prospective employer that some particular action was so egregious that it required immediate termination. So if it was a non-renewal vs. termination, the difference can be subtle but interpretation on the part of the prospective employer could be huge.

If you can truthfully say that it was a non-renewal, I would explain in as much detail as possible that the action was the result of a significant difference in opinion by a priest (who was in charge of the school? I assume it was a parochial school?) and you. Go into detail about the issue so that it is clear to the prospective employer that it was not a result of misbehavior on your part or a performance concern. I think most HR people and interviewing principals can differentiate between the two and be able to make a determination that is fair. Perhaps without muddying up the waters in your old school, is it possible to get a letter of recommendation from a parent or former colleague attesting to your teaching skills? Remember, getting another teaching position soon, can get your last position way behind you. What that would mean is that if you could secure a teaching position, say for a year, the next position you apply for will not require a recommendation from the priest.

These career things happen, it is best to handle them directly and honestly.

Jack Kronser, Human Resources 
Aurora Public Schools, CO

 

I always encourage applicants to be honest; there's just no way around it.  Recruiters know that there are some administrators who are difficult to get along with and sometimes release good teachers just because of personality issues.   The applicant should be honest and tell his/her side of the story (tactfully) should the opportunity arise.  If the applicant has good references who will make supportive statements about the applicant's skill in the classroom, then these may help to offset the situation of not being renewed in a position.

Rebecca Faber, Career Services 
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

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