A Letter to the Principal

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RickRood-vertical2Dear Principal Jackson,

I thought I should reach out and let you know (again) that I'm doing my best to run a quality afterschool center over here on the southwest corner of your campus. You've been the principal here for a little more than two years now, and, to my knowledge, you've never stopped by to check out what we're up to.

I've been running afterschool programs for nearly two decades now, and, like clockwork, for most of those years, the school has provided me with a master list of the children and class assignments. It's always been with the understanding that the information is confidential. And it’s always been understood that we need the list so that we know from which classroom each of our kids will be coming.

But what's strange is that in the past two years you've refused me access to these lists. No explanation. Just that I'm not "authorized" to have a copy of these documents. You had me make a list of the kids in our program and give them to your overworked secretary so she can pencil in each kid's teacher. I’m sure it must be some new bureaucratic rule too arcane for me to understand.

However, the first day of school rolled around this year, and the secretary still had not returned my list. With release time looming (T-minus one hour, to be precise), I had no idea which kids belonged with which teacher. As you know, first days can be very frenetic, and not having this list only added to the chaos.

I paid a visit to the office to check on the status of the list, and was told that we wouldn't be able to have it by release time. I offered to sit at a table in the office and do the work myself, but was once again rebuffed, being told that not only was I not allowed to have the list, I wasn't even allowed to look at it.

That got me to thinking, and I realized that this is deeper than a kerfuffle over a student roster. It has to do with how you view the importance and significance of me, my staff and what we do on a daily basis. Here’s a small list of what I haven’t said over the past couple of years of your tenure:

  • I haven’t complained that you view my staff as little more than glorified babysitters.
  • I haven’t said anything about the fact that you treat my staff as your employees, rather than as a professional group working with you.
  • Even though our staff has been attending workshops and creating curriculum around adding science, technology, science and mathematics and Common Core enrichment, I haven't said a word about the fact that you have no idea what our curriculum provides for the students.
  • I didn’t ask for acknowledgement that every time you asked that we help with a family that has attendance problems because they lack child care before or after school, we have readily helped, giving each of those referred students three or more months of free child care until that family can get back on their feet again, with an average cost to us of $1,500 per student referred.
  • I didn't make a fuss during the recent construction project that blocked off half the parking lot — even though you told my staff that they were no longer welcome to park in the lot anymore — you needed those spots for "your" teachers.

I hope that we can take some time to open a new chapter in our relationship … one that is truly symbiotic. To reach the optimal outcomes for all the children on campus, our work can be magnified exponentially if we work together and understand and support each others’ outcomes. Or, we can continue being viewed by you as inferior and subservient — at the peril of the very children and families that we both are pledged to support in growth and development.

Signed,

The Afterschool Program Director