Incredulity. Head shaking. Laughing and amazed...
Head shaking again.
How ridiculous to start in classrooms with bullying prevention! How inept an operation is that!? We encourage
children to "Do the Right Thing". We chastise them when they've hurt others' feelings, yet, school districts across
the nation are led by bullying and brutish men and women. They're not doing right things. They're hurting feelings.
They're not only hurting teachers' careers...they're destroying them.
Cities, too, are led by bullying people. One of my district's "biggest
whigs" is now, for example, mayor of an affluent city. She's got real power--both in a school district and in a
municipality. Certainly I've seen the effects of that power in a school district. She's second in command to my superintendent--in
charge of hiring and firing employees; sits right up front at school board meetings and soaks in the admiration of her underlings.
She's also a really close friend
of two of my former principals and the counselor at my former school. She's opened many doors for her friends. She's
also kept the doors of justice--all actions against them unfounded--shut.
Simply put, she protects her friends.
Man, oh man, I wish she were my friend! I certainly have experienced the
effects of "her friendship" though not in a good way. I was on the receiving end of her buddies' "leadership
of one of her principal friends--lauded by the district and seeking a superintendency--is unethical, scary, brutish, and truly
dangerous. He didn't like me much. Although I am not such a "goodie two shoes"--for who can be in these places called
public schools with this "do-anything-it-doesn't-matter-if-it's-true-or-not" mentality?--I told the truth. He didn't,
to say the least, much like that. As you know, he let me know of his displeasure.
He was not my friend.
The mayor/assistant superintendent's other principal friend was not scary
nor dangerous. She was inept, clueless, and distant. That principal also--because of her friendship not only with
the newly appointed city mayor and school district big whig, but with the dangerous brute and his counselor sidekick--worked
hard at blocking all (and I mean ALL; "You are forbidden to do that and if you do I will have to write you up" kinds
of conversations) of my bullying prevention efforts.
She, too, was not my friend.
That principal must have been frustrated to have me assigned to her school.
Imagine! I'd turned her buddy in for bullying! Imagine her good friend--the other counselor at that school
(oh the convoluted ickiness of those friendships and alliances woven tightly together. My dull scissored, truth telling attempts
at cutting through the friendships and the ills those friendships had wrought for employees and their students were not enough.
Those friendship ropes are tight) and her communications to the mayor/superintendent about me.
I was armed with the dull scissors; the counselor was armed with district
provided razor sharp and gleaming knives...oh, how did I escape?
Please hang in there with me, dear readers, as I work at portraying for you the
tightness of the roped friendships. At the retirement luncheon for the inept principal--there the three female friends
were: my retiring principal, the counselor at the school where the dangerous male brute works...and the mayor/district "big
whig". There they were cuddling together and laughing. There they were literally "woven together" with their
arms wrapped around each other.
all were listening to stories of this principal's greatness. One after the other, the feeder pattern principals arose and
lauded her. I was incredulous. Really? My experience was not that! My experience was one of frustration
and unease at the retiring principal's lack of involvement; her hardly ever leaving her office; her on going "do-not-
disturb-the-leadership-team" meetings behind closed doors as she and her assistant principals "disappeared"
for hours and the school's children ran amok.
in there!" I'd often wanted to fling that principal's door open during those meetings. "GET OUT HERE! WE NEED
LEADERSHIP! The third floor is a downright dangerous place to be."
At least the luncheon's food was good. The PTSA president, by the
way, honored me as a welcoming face and smile at our school. That must have really annoyed the tightly woven threesome. Put
a frown on the face of that moment.
PTSA president. Thanks for that.
at my school, parents asked my current (and wonderful) principal about school safety and bullying prevention at our school.
These were parents of fifth grade children. They are deciding whether or not to choose our school for middle school.
Safety concerns--both physical and emotional--are bottom line issues for parents. Parents know their beloved children cannot
learn if they (the children) do not feel safe.
was asked by my principal to speak on that as I am the resident "guru" of bullying prevention. I believe I
surprised the parents and him. I did not speak of intervention techniques or school wide efforts. I did not talk
about the different roles--target, perpetrator and bystanders. I spoke of none of that.
Instead, I pointed to my principal. I said something like this:
"Preventing bullying starts with leadership. Nothing happens in a school without a principal's support. We--you
and I--have that here. This is a creative, smart, fun and genuine man. It's a great time for all of us--employees, parents,
and most of all students--to be at this school. We have a wonderful school principal and I, as his employee, could not
be more grateful."
my current principal and I will be very good friends.