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13 April 2008 @ 02:47 pm
That's not the light at the end of the tunnel-- that's an oncoming train. ^_^  
And here we are again. ^__^ I feel terrible that I haven't been able to keep up with my friends, and yet I come over here and bitch about my life. *sigh* Frankly, I hope I go back to having no life in RL-- all this drama is exhausting.

I've been poking around looking for jobs since Easter, despite the fact I don't want to leave Puji alone with 'my kids'. (I do know they aren't *my* kids, per say, but when you spend forty hours a week with a child, you get a little attached. ^__^) Then Puji dropped a bomb. She turned in her two weeks notice because, she says, she's tired of being the victim! I managed to make all the right sympathetic noises-- and, to be fair, Lichfield treats absolutely everyone like shit-- and found out that the director had sworn her to secrecy, but she was telling me because I'm her 'closest friend'. X_x;; So Puji's last day is going to be this coming Tuesday, and none of the parents know. The director (aka Boss Lady) doesn't want the parents to find out until the last possible moment, because Puji will be the fifth teacher to quit since January. (If that doesn't sum up how things are at Lichfield, I don't know what does.)

I found all this out last Friday, shortly after Joy and Puji had another arguement about Joy's daughter, Seline. (Puji left a *huge* gash on Seline's arm with her finger nail, ostensibly inflicted on accident while trying to make Seline sit time-out in her cubby). Puji told Joy, in a moment of anger, that she was glad she was almost done with Joy since she's quiting and moving back to India. So, for about a week, Joy and I were the only ones who knew Puji had quit.
"By all rights," Joy said, "they should move you up to lead teacher, and hire a new assistant. You've been doing the lead's job since you started in there, anyway."
"They won't give it to me," I said, because I should have known that the first time I applied for the position. Boss Lady and I had already gone head to head a few times, not to mention the fact our new Assistant Director didn't seem too crazy about me. Why should they give me the lead when I was already doing the job-- for much less pay-- and was sure to make whomever they hired in look good? I know all this sounds crazy, because Lichfield is (at least in theory) a school, and it should be about what's best for the children. In reality, its all about politics, ass-kissing, and power games. I told Joy I wasn't going to stick around for them to pass me over again when I'm one of the two most qualified and educated people in the building. (I know that sounds immodest, but it's not hard-- I'm one of only two people in the preschool/infant wing to have a college degree. ^^;) Now, at least, I knew that I could try to find a job, turn in my two weeks when I *did* find one, and know that I wouldn't be leaving Seline, Gideon, and my kids at Puji's mercy. I will miss my kids (we're the Blue Class, btw) like hell, but-- as both my mom, brother and Joy have pointed out-- I've been miserable at Lichfield since day one. I've been lied to by the management from day one.
I need to get out.

I just needed a job first. Let cooler heads prevail, be responsible, play it safe, all that rot.

And then we had a staff meeting.

The rest is the sad and cautionary tale of Meredith's resignation. Picture, if you will, Lichfield School-- a pretty bland building with two wings (infant/preschool; elementary) connected by a small loby. A school where almost everyone who works there hates working there. I'm serious. Ten of the sixteen teachers in my wing have their resumes out on Career Builder dot Com. Three of us are actively looking for new jobs. A teacher can walk into the staff lounge and announce, "God, I hate this place" (sometimes even "This place is evil") and receive knowing nods in return, not to mentiona chorus of 'So do we!' I wish I were exaggerating. Staff meetings are notorious for being bitch sessions that come just short of physical blows-- the first time I went to one, someone I didn't even know told me to 'sit in the back and remember to duck'.
So I knew the staff meeting this Wednesday wasn't going to be fun. Plus, we have the new assistant director, who has been so eager to prove she has power that she's created all sorts of bizarre new rules and has been writing people up left and right for things that were completely permissible before.

At the staff meeting, said new AD announced a new attentance policy. If you missed more than three days in a 90 day period (with or without a doctor's note), you'd be on probation and any further reprimands would be cause to fire you. Okay, fine, whatever. After the way Boss Lady treated me the last time I missed, I'd already told them I'd come in short of coughing up blood-- missing just isn't worth the hassel you get. But then the AD said she was making this policy affective not from the 9th, which is when she announced it, but from the 1st of April. Retroactively punishing us during a time when the rule did not exist. I raised my hand, and she refused to call on me. I stood up, with my hand raised.
"Apparently, Meredith has something to say," the AD muttered.
I asked her why she was making the policy retroactive, when such an action is clearly unfair. I compared it to having a road on which the speed limit was 45 MPH-- one day, you decide to change the speed limit to 40 MPH. But not only are you going to change it, you're going to penalize everyone who was going the former speed limit the week before, even though it was perfectly legal then. The AD's response was that she was 'doing us a courtesy by telling us the policy was now in place', and that she 'could do whatever she wanted'.
I huffed, "I think the Ohio Labor Department might argue with you there." The AD told me to sit down and be quiet, then passed out a policy agreement form for us to sign. When we passed them back, mine was not among them-- I pocketed it as evidence, unsigned, and left.

I knew I wasn't going to get away with it, but it pissed me off that she was so hell bent on punishing us for things we did before she even instituted the rule. Not only had I missed a day since 4/1, seven other people had as well. None of us should have points on our files, because we all called in without knowing that we'd be getting a point in our file for it, even if we had a doctor's note. Sure enough, on Thursday, Boss Lady and the AD called me into the office, and told me to sign the form.
"Is it still retroactive back to the first of April?" I asked. They said yes. "Then I can not, in good faith, sign that." The AD told me to go get my things and leave, because I was refusing to comply with company policy. I told her had no problem with the policy-- if they wanted to penalize me for every sick day after April 9th, more power to them. It was the retroactivity clause I had a problem with. The AD asked me why I was so upset if I wasn't in any real trouble.
"Do you just not want the point?" she asked.
"It's not about me," I told her. "It's about the principle. You can't punish someone for breaking a rule that hadn't even been created yet. I'll play any game you want, with any rules you want, but you have to tell me what the rules are. You need to get rid of everyone's point and start from April 9th."
We went 'round and 'round, with her refusing to see the logic in my arguement and insisting I was being a baby about not wanting a point. Finally, she said that if I didn't sign the paper, she'd penalize me for everyday I'd missed since I was hired, and write me up for insubordination.
"I know when I'm backed into a corner," I said. "I'm not a kamikaze--" (liar, liar)"-- so I'll sign and take one point. Give me the paper so I can sign and go back to work."

Then she wouldn't give me the paper. She said I was still upset (I wasn't crying or anything, but I had felt strongly about my point), and that I couldn't sign until I 'saw reason' and admitted she was right.
"I wasn't aware that was a requirement for signing," I said. "I will never say you're right, because you're not. But I will abide by your rules, which is all you can ask of me. I'm not leaving this room without signing that paper because, if I do, you'll say I wouldn't sign. So let me sign and let's be done with this."
The AD, who is pregnant and not a small woman anyway, moved so she was sitting between me and the door, paper in her hand. I wasn't going to try to take it from her, so I asked for it again. Again, the answer was no. So I took in a deep breath and sat there, looking at her, waiting for her to decide what to do.
"You feel passionately about this."
"I feel passionately about my rights as a worker," I said.
"Why can't you feel passionately about this school?" she asked. "About being a team player?"
"Do you see how you treat me?" I asked. "I've agreed to sign, and now you won't let me! Passion is wasted on this place."
She said, "Then I will see to it that you will never be lead teacher in the Blue Room, or in any other room."

"Wait right here," I said. "I'll be back." She tried to block me, but I ducked under her arm, went to the closet where I'd hung my purse, and took out the letter of resignation I'd been keeping in there since the day Boss Lady left that nasty message on my machine. I signed it, dated it, and handed it to Boss Lady, who'd been watching the confrontation between me and the AD with her mouth open the entire time.
"I'm sorry it had to end this way," she said, witht the AD looking over her shoulder.
"I'm not," I told her. "You were never going to give me the lead, were you? Even if this arguement hadn't happened?"
The director didn't say anything, but she didn't have to. I knew that look.
"Better not to stick around hanging on promises. And if I'd resigned after you passed me up again, you would have said I was acting childish. At least, this way, I resigned over a principle."
The stupid woman actually tried to hug me, and I backed away. "I hope you've learned something here," she said.
"I have. It's an important lesson: I've learned not to care."

Which is a lie, because I still care. I know I shouldn't, but I cried all Thursday evening, every time I thought about leaving my kids, about the time I've wasted at Lichfield. I feel better about it now-- liberated, in a way, because there's something wrong with that school. I know I shot myself in the foot by saying Lichfield isn't worth passion, but I think the AD had made up her mind to get rid of me the minute I stood up to her about the policy. She was keeping me in that room, not letting me sign, in hopes I would get angry enough to say something insubordinate enough that she could fire me for it. I just preempted her by ressigning. So she wins, I lose, and I have two weeks in which to find a job. Solid leads are good-- and I have those-- but they do not a solid *job* make.

So much for playing it safe. I guess this is one kamikaze who doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut. There's no fool in the world more pathetic than the fool who stands up for what she believes is right.

If I know that, why can't I stop?

I know this entry had been elephantine, but it's all out now, and I feel better for it. If you made it to the end, I applaud you. Thank you for listening. I love you all.
Emotional Temperature: bitchybitchy
The Band Plays:: "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby"-- by Counting Crows
roxymissrose: l-the victorian by beetroxymissrose on April 13th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)
I'm overcome with admiration for you. It might not have been the move you planned, but you certainly took it with grace. Good for you, really. I wish the very best for you, I'm sure all will work out in the end.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: marthakentgarnettrees on April 19th, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC)
*blush* Thank you for so much for saying what you did. I'm still a little poisoned with the emotions I was feeling them, but I'm starting to see things in a more clincal light-- beginning to be able to remove myself from the situation. I think you're right, and there wasn't much more I could do-- hearing it from someone else, though, helps me stop beating myself up about it. Thanks!
macadamanaity on April 13th, 2008 08:05 pm (UTC)

You're very brave for sticking to your guns like that. You were right.

I know it sucks right now, but I am glad for you that these people won't be able to torture you any longer. That's just not right.

I'll send out positive job-finding vibes. Good luck!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: evendeathdiesgarnettrees on April 19th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
**hugs back**

I'm not sure if it was bravery or stubborness, but it all came down to the same thing in the end. ^_^ Now I just have one more week to go.

Your vibes must be working, because I have three solid leads. *crosses fingers* I think I'm still gonna need plenty of luck, though.
*hugs again*
Abyssis: BSG - Apollo and Starbuck and bodies inabyssinia4077 on April 13th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
*hugs Meredith*

I know I haven't "talked" with you in forever but I have been reading your entries and I'm really sorry you got stuck in such an awful situation (because I know how much it sucks to be trying your hardest to do a good job and care about your work and having the people above you make that impossible). I really hope you find a good place soon that will appreciate what they have in you without getting lost in petty politics.

It's liberating knowing it's over, isn't it?

*hugs you again*
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: boomer2garnettrees on April 19th, 2008 04:40 pm (UTC)
*hugs Aby, tackles and squishes her*

I haven't 'talked' to you in forever, either, but I have been trying to keep up with what's going on with you, even if I don't comment. (Good luck with Colorado and the funding!) And it's always, always so good to hear from you. I appreciate your support, and just throwing your voice in.

I only have one week left-- I think they're going to try and make it as difficult for me as possible but, as long as I steel myself and remember not to react without thinking, I'm hoping I'll be okay. I want to leave as gracefully as possible. X_x;;;
Amber: atlantis | weirminttown1 on April 13th, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)
I'm glad that you feel better for having gotten this all out. I wish it all hadn't happened, but I have to say that I'm glad that you're out of there, however it happened. I hope something else comes through quickly for you.

*hugs* ♥
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: gunslingergarnettrees on April 19th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
I think, in the end, I'll be glad to be out of there, too. I just have to get past leaving the kids and somehow let go. I dunno-- I think this next week is going to be rough. It's like transplanting a tree into new soil; sometimes you tear up some roots digging it out.

*hugs tight* I think I have two or three options that look good. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Nebula: xander willow comfortauthoressnebula on April 13th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
Oh sweetie. You have full rights to cry, I promise you that. I'd be shocked if you didn't.

And for the record, what she did was abuse. She had no rights to hold you in that room against your will, and I would seriously contact a lawyer. And if you don't want to go that route, that's perfectly fine; you just lemme know when and where, and I'll go have a talk with the nasty little-

*takes a deep breath*

She has no right to treat you that way, lambykins. Just be careful, okay?

Love you sweetheart,

Meredith Bronwen Mallory: darla_dru3garnettrees on April 19th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
You have full rights to cry, I promise you that. I'd be shocked if you didn't.
I just wish I had a magic switch that could delay the crying, you know? So I could do it at home, instead of at work where people can take joy in it or perceive it as a weakness.

I'm contacting the Ohio Department of Labor, as well as OSHA, regarding their labor practices with me, and some of the ways they cut corners in general. I don't know if it'll do any good, but it will at least be out there.

*takes a deep breath*
*cuddles her Neb* Darling, your theoretical threats of violence make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. ^_~ I do love you, Lambykins.

I'm being *very* careful my last week. *takes a deep breath*
Love you, doll,
Ivy Loreivylore on April 13th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC)

But good for sticking to your guns. Sometimes you have to, just for you. Good luck with the search. I hope you find a happier place to work.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: lovesecretgarnettrees on April 19th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)

Thank you for the support! I have two or three good leads, but I'll have to have something stone solid in order to allow myself to start breathing again, I think.

Thanks again!
Neotomaneotoma on April 13th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
This sounds like it was an impossible situation.

You did really well to keep your cool with your crazy bosses and walk out on your own -- better to quit than be fired. I certainly wouldn't have been able to control myself so well.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: rosegarnettrees on April 19th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
better to quit than be fired.
That's exactly what I was thinking during the entire meeting. And maybe, somehow, I knew deep down that standing up to them was going to end like that. Why else would I have kept my two-weeks, unsigned, in my purse, for the last month? They'd been giving me grief for so long, I *knew* it was going to come to a head.

I don't know how well I controlled myself then, but I'm going to try really hard to do so this week. I want to leave on my terms, and only my terms. ^_^
lilyoftheval5lilyoftheval5 on April 14th, 2008 10:27 am (UTC)
Well, that didn't end up the way I thought it would. Which is no surprise.....
I think you read the 'lady-who-has-to-prove something' (I soooo do hate that sort of people) correctly and did the right thing. Frankly, it was the best viable choice.
Retroactive policies and laws are absurd, why did that women think the precedents are so important in the court of law? And why there are no such laws introduced? (At least, not that I'm aware off.)

I don't really get why there's such a bad atmosphere in that school, I do hope the kids haven't picked it up though. In any case.....
Today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Think about it. And rejoice!
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: violetgarnettrees on April 19th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
I think you read the 'lady-who-has-to-prove something' (I soooo do hate that sort of people) correctly
With the way she's been treating me since I turned in the notice (cool disdain, coupled with dark glares when she sees me interacting with the parents and the children) I'm almost certain I read her motives correctly. It good to hear it from someone else, though, because I now I can sometimes be a little paranoid. ^__^;;

I don't really get why there's such a bad atmosphere in that school, I do hope the kids haven't picked it up though.
I've been thinking about that, and I kept coming back to something the ever-ellusive owner said during the staff Christmas party. He gave this little speech, during which he called the school a 'business' at least four times. The AD said the same thing at our staff meeting, and again when she told me wouldn't give me the lead position. She said I didn't 'have the right attitude for the company.'

And that's it-- because our managers see the kids as goods, the parents as customers that are easily replaced, and the school as a business... it taints everything in the system. You couldn't run a hospital like that, you can't run a school like that. You need compassion and empathy to deal with people, especially children. All they see is the Almighty Dollar.

Today is the beginning of the rest of your life. Think about it. And rejoice!
Thank you. I will tell myself that the dday I walk out of Lichfield forever, and think of you. ^_^
lilyoftheval5lilyoftheval5 on April 19th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
"He gave this little speech, during which he called the school a 'business'."
Oh, yes that would do it. Gods..... As a disillusioned man once said "In the first place God made idiots; that was for practice; then he made school boards."

I had teachers for whom the education of others was just payed work. I even knew few who, when applying in the Uni, choose a random available course because there was no room in the one they actually wanted - so you had a chemistry teacher who would actually rather be teaching math.
Shambles! On their own lives and ours - they were all, each and every one of them, bad teachers. Tragedy of it was, I only found out how bad some of them were when we had temporary replacements or new teachers - most of the time it was too late. Heaven and earth, heaven and earth.....

I'm a great fan of the idea of compulsory psychological tests for educators, doctors, social workers.... You can not be in that line of work for profit, fame, or just because you lacked a better idea.
You are very perceptive, and good narrator; if they consider kindergarten a money factory....uncompatible.

"Thank you. I will tell myself that the day I walk out of Lichfield forever, and think of you."
*bows* I'm deeply flattered.
A suggestion - If I were in your shoes, after coming home that final day, I would put on some jumpy, uplifting music and let it relax and renew me while I'd hop around the house. However, I'm a very acoustic type, so maybe a nice bubble bath would be a better option for you.
However, do something, even if it's a walk through a park or some sinful dessert.
wickedwonder1wickedwonder1 on April 14th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry that you had to leave your kids like that, but now you can take a deep breath and move on to bigger and better things. Also, I'd so be reporting your ex-lead teacher to DCFS, because 'accidentally' scratching children is not something I take lightly.
Meredith Bronwen Mallory: dcgirlsgarnettrees on April 19th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
Also, I'd so be reporting your ex-lead teacher to DCFS, because 'accidentally' scratching children is not something I take lightly.
I filed an incident report with the school and made the director sign it. She didn't want to-- said the whole thing was an 'accident'-- but I pointed out that we file IRs for accidents kids have on the playground, too. Anything that involves blood being drawn or a blow to the head requires an incident report, and it goes in the permanent file. When our DCFS rep comes to review the school again in May, she will have access to all those reports. However, I have her email, and I'm going to send her a note about the incident, as well as a report I filed back in November regarding some suspicions I had regarding the home treatment of one of my students-- a report the director 'misplaced'.

In short-- you're right, it's not something to be taken lightly at all. And if the DCFS rep knows Lichfield cuts corners, she'll be more likely to take a longer look at the place when she comes in May.

This is going to be the hard week-- because it's my last, and because I have to tell the kids I'm going. *deep breath*
Mahlia Belonnmahlia on April 20th, 2008 09:00 am (UTC)
(I'm a bit behind in my reading!) It is always a good thing to stand up for your principles. You did a good thing by fighting their stupid policy changes. In the long run this will be a good thing for you. If you are not happy, then it causes untold stress on the body, which then leads to illness and more stress... Believe me I know! Walking away from a stressful situation is the only solution as your health and happiness is more important. I learnt that lesson the hard way and am still paying the price some 16 years later. Good luck finding something new and hope you find the happiness you deserve.