Saturday, October 31, 2009

Free at Last...But a Little Stunned

On Thursday, the school's "leadership" rose up to my low expectations of them and fired me. I had a feeling (call it prophecy) that they might pull a stunt like that, so I was not completely unprepared - I had already taken most of my things home from my classroom, although I had not prepared for the emotional impact. Right now I feel blindsided, numb, and exhausted.

I left school as quickly as I could after the "meeting" with the two headmasters, packed up a bunch of my things from the apartment, and then on Friday drove to Lynchburg to sign the new lease, then back to Michigan. Whew! I got in at 4:30 in the morning, and went straight to bed. Today, I am completely wiped out, both physically and emotionally. I expect a great surge of emotion to wallop me on Monday, but for now I'm still varying between feeling absolutely nothing and experiencing short-lived bursts of emotion.

A few words about that "meeting" on Thursday:
Right after school, in his usual domineering fashion, one of the headmasters informed me that he wanted to see me. As soon as he and his stooge (the other headmaster) closed the door of the office, I knew what was going to happen. They, naturally, were furious at what I had written in my letter of resignation (I told the truth, which seems to be something they despise at that school). Those two grown men yelled at me and behaved in their usual threatening, unprofessional manner. They had clearly been watching and waiting until they could gather a good flimsy reason for letting me go, and I could see it all clearly as they did their worst.

Normally, a confrontation like that with authority would have reduced me to immediate violent tears (especially since I have never before been in a situation like that). This time, however, something happened within me. As the two men railed on, my mind awoke to a few realizations:

1. These two men, with their yelling and their pompous self-righteousness, were making themselves look too foolish to be taken seriously. No longer could I see them as figures of authority worthy of respect; they had now removed the veil of respectably and metamorphosed themselves into their true natures: twin paradigms of idiocy and amateurish management. Thus, I was no longer capable of fearing them.
2. No amount of groveling on my part could have save me; nor would I have wanted it to. I was clearly in the right, and thus there was no reason to apologize for being correct.
3. None of this was my fault. I had been looking for possible ways to blame myself for the situation I found myself in, but honestly, I had behaved in an upright, ethical manner through all of it. There was nothing that I could or should have done differently. Although normally it "takes two to tango," in this instance, all of the blame rests on the incompetent shoulders of two absurd men.

So, I made no attempt to fight against what was happening. I accepted the early dismissal from my position, and left the room with my emotions intact, for the moment at least. With remarkable speed, I packed up what remained of my belongings in the classroom, and got out of that fetid environment. I resisted the urge to seek revenge in any way. The next day, I brought in the textbooks that I had at home and my classroom key. Then I left that miserable school behind forever.

What have I learned from this abhorrent experience? A few things:

1. Those who call themselves Christians can stab in the back even harder than non-Christians. Very sad, considering the example that this places before the rest of the world.
2. A signed contract is no guarantee that one will be treated fairly. Unethical people find it very easy to violate signed contracts.
3. The word "Christian" is in the title in no way guarantees that a school is actually Christian in practice.
4. School boards are actually capable of hiring complete idiots to lead a school, and can be deceived into thinking that these individuals are "saving" their school.

I predict that that school will either close next year or the year after, and it is probably a good thing. The educational standards are appallingly low, and those poor students need and deserve a more competent place to be educated and prepared for life. I did the best that I could to smuggle in education to those children while I was there (despite the abominable excuse for curriculum and the completely inept leadership), and I can only hope that some of it sticks. As more and more teachers eventually escape from that sinking ship, parents are bound to wake up and realize what is going on. Sadly, I do not expect that they will awaken in time to save the school. The devastating blows have already been struck, starting with the firing of the former headmaster, who most likely could have rescued that school. Oh well, none of it is any concern of mine anymore.

I am free at last. Allen and Bill have immeasurably brightened and enriched my life - by leaving it.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"