Saturday, July 05, 2008

Rhee Deploys 'Army of Believers'

Maurice Kennard is Francis-Stevens Educational Center's new principal. (By Gerald Martineau -- The Washington Post)
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I was teary-eyed while reading this article "Rhee Deploys 'Army of Believers'" from The WaPo. I remember (here's my reflections) 5 years ago in the Philippines when I was still running my own special education center. I was also an administrator at 28 when I got the employment offer to teach in DCPS, I also felt a similar surge of adrenalin run through me.
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Fresh from a foreign country, coming from a different culture, and having watched "Dangerous Minds" starring Michelle Pfiffer, I was then apprehensive to teach in an American inner city public schools. But at the same time I was so thrilled to teach in the most powerful city in the world. I came to DCPS in the middle of the school year without a proper orientation or in-house-training usually given to neophyte teachers. I was in total darkness of the American educational system and yet expected to perform like a veteran teacher. Consequently, I was in a culture shock and still in a difficult relocation adjustment! People who understand what I was going through told me to transfer to another school district. My students were determined to literally make me quit on my first year, maybe because I kept fumbling and messing up in the classroom, I was letting them down. But I was more strong-minded than them, and my spirit was indomitable. I was persistent to make a big difference in their lives, and to be an accomplished teacher. After 5 years, I wanted to tell the same students that I can work productively with them already, and that I am a better teacher now.
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I am still here...in the same school still a special education teacher...and I did not just survive...
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I applaud our new principals and assistant principals and commend them for their willingness to take the challenge that most of us see as impossible. They have the fortitude which is a virtue not all of us have. They are coming to our schools in the middle of a districtwide education reform initiated by our Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Last school year ended for us with the air of uncertainty, a complete lack of knowledge about what is going to happen or what it is going to look like. The schools will soon open with students and teachers being welcomed by new leaders bringing in new hope, new ideas, innovative strategies. This is going to be a challenging school year at the same time exciting -- a new learning experience for all of us!
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I most welcome our new principal at Jefferson, Ms. Stephanie Patton. I give you my collegial support. The power is yours now to bring back the pride! I believe that, collaborating together with the entire Jefferson community, we will not just survive...we will thrive. Please lead the way.


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