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By Donnabeth Leffler

Teaching Beyond the Classroom

By Donnabeth Leffler Posted July 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm

This column will add to a main problem with what is frequently written online:  I’m about to write my opinion of something about which I have almost no firsthand knowledge.  Kind of makes you want to click something else, doesn’t it?

I’m writing about the apparently pending transfer of Chapel Hill High School English teacher Anne Thompson.  I don’t know the teacher, I don’t have a child at the school, nor at her intended destination of Carrboro High.  I am not a member of any group that has fought the transfer nor have I been affiliated with the school board or administration in any way.  

Now that we’re clear on the many reasons I have absolutely no standing to have an opinion, here’s why I do:  I have a heart and compassion.  

From what I read on Chapelboro.com, this teacher is one year away from retirement and is still recovering from the death of her husband this past year.  Thompson has taught at CHHS for 26 years and to not be able to finish her career there seems as if it was decided by machines, not people.  If there were any reason to think we were talking about a teacher who was phoning it in, a lame duck, I certainly wouldn’t want any child at any school to receive less than the best but that doesn’t appear to be anyone’s concern about Anne Thompson.  

There are differing opinions/claims over whether this transfer has to do with some negative interactions Thompson may have had with the now-retired principal of CHHS.  Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe she did.  Maybe she didn’t.  He’s not there anymore.  She has one more year to teach.  Students seem to love her.  She’s being asked to learn new systems and a new curriculum in a place where she has no support system.  No one is at his/her most effective when new; it’s a trade-off that’s worth it when the change is one that’s going to build and vest over years.  That’s clearly not the case here.

So what’s the business case for this transfer?  If there is a business case for this, or an educational case, I’ve not heard it.  If there is a human case for it, I can’t find it.  Are our schools teaching children to be kind, to consider all circumstances, to look beyond the obvious?  Or are we teaching them to be rigid and punitive?  In my uneducated view of this case, there’s a beautiful opportunity for school system leadership to show the strength inherent in flexibility.  That would be some savvy spending of power!

Agree, disagree?  Leave a comment below or write to me at Donnabeth@Chapelboro.com

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