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.