To The Editor:

At the Renaissance assembly, I was honored by the students to be named the “Teacher of the Year.” 

I will always cherish the deafening applause, chants, thoughts, tears, and words that were such an overwhelming affirmation of who I am as a teacher, and who you are as students. Thank you! 

Somewhat surprising, considering that the “Teacher of the Year” is being forced to retire by the School District of Washington. 

I said, “No!” to the district office when told I must become less of the teacher I believe students need and want and more like their vision of “good” teaching.

Locust Street’s vision of “good” teaching focuses on commonality, curriculum, lesson plans, outcomes, targets, goals, proficiencies, state assessments, professional development, technology, and more complex teacher evaluation forms. 

Much of the above comes from a deep-seated need for control, insecurity, a lack of trust in teachers, and an inadequate vision of great teaching. 

On the other hand, students value teachers who value them, who make learning fun, challenging, personal and timely; students want to look forward to going to class and want teachers who are excited that the students are in their class. 

I would argue that students understand what great teaching is, more than Locust Street, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the education “gurus,” the state Legislature, and sadly, more than us as teachers sometimes. 

What makes an effective learning environment, curriculum or a teacher?

I was humbled, moved, and affirmed by the outpouring of support I received after I “voluntarily” retired. The students began a petition campaign on Twitter (protest4parsons) and received around 2,000 signatures and statements in a short amount of time. 

I would encourage you to go see the responses and judge for yourself my effectiveness as a teacher. MC Landolt presented in person a thoughtful and passionate appeal to the school board on my behalf. 

Thank you to all who organized (Blake and Brian), presented, and responded, your thoughts and actions were so kind. I wish for your sake, not mine, I could have encouraged you to continue the campaign to restore my teaching position as I believe you would have learned a great lesson. I have no doubt, given the quality and passion of students at Washington High School, the campaign would have been successful. 

Parents, teachers, and students should be concerned about a district that chooses curriculum over a great teacher!