Pros: Making a difference in the lives of people.
Cons: High stress and little money or support to make more desired changes and desired level of impact
A Typical Day:
I would arrive at 7:00 a.m. and walk the school to make sure everything was as it should be, turning on lights, opening the gym, checking computer systems, and security. At 7:10, I would lay out my agenda of the day, sending out necessary emails. Beginning at 7:20, staff would begin arriving, and I would greet and meet with them about various needs and requests, including evaluation meetings, student/parent meeting, academic needs, and other aspects of school life. Students began entering the building at 7:30, so I would greet them and supervise breakfast.
At 7:45, I would move all students to their classrooms, and supervise hallways, meet with parents coming in about concerns, schedule student's who needed to meet with me. At 8:00 a.m., I would do announcements and the pledge.
From 8:10 on the days varied. I would have parent, staff, student, and administrative meetings. I would attend IEP, Special Education Meetings on students, meet with court officials and probation officers, health department, etc. to meet student needs. At 10:00 there would be a student break, and I would supervise basketball in the gym. Meetings and classroom visits occurred all day long, moving quickly form one meeting to another, and walking the halls during any breaks, observing classrooms, and helping individual students when I actually had a break or calling parents, truancy, and community services.
At 11:00, I would lead student leadership meetings and bring in community resources to meet with students. 11:45 to 12:15 included serving lunch as a server and then – more... supervising lunch and the gym.
I would monitor halls, deal with discipline issues, and get everyone in class immediately after lunch, and continue with meetings. From 12:45 to 1:15, I always dealt with truancy issues and meetings. The end of the day at 3:40 included monitoring the student boarding of buses and pick-up. There was a huge problem with security and gang activity, so I and police would post out at various corners to prevent problems.
At 3:45, administrator meetings would begin. I would also get basketball or sports practices going, conduct teacher training. These meetings often continued until 5:30 p.m. and many times later. On sports nights, I had to drive students in vans to the sporting events, run the scoreboard and set up the gym myself, and bus students home, staying until the last one was picked up. I would get home often at 10:00 p.m., answer emails, make a list of what needed to be done the next day, and drop in bed at 11:00-12:00 p.m. to do it all again the next day.
The alternative education high school had 210 students, only 5 teachers, 4 assistants, and part-time social worker and counselor. The supports for students I built in through connections I made with churches, businesses, organizations, and counseling/ law enforcement.
The hardest part of the job was the lack of understanding and support from the superintendent level. They knew we were required to accept the most challenging 210 students in all of west Michigan, but expected high graduation rates, no discipline or legal concerns from students, no violence, and would discipline the administrator for anything occurring. We were completely understaffed, and had higher requirements than the high school, yet working with students that the high school sent to our building. Our supports were created by our hard work and networking.
When successes occurred, the district claimed them, and then financially took more resources from us. When struggles occurred, my staff and I were severely reprimanded. Due to the struggles with the gangs, types of struggles students came to us with, we had to deal with drugs, alcohol, weapons, violence, fighting, and many academic and psychological concerns with students. We did not have police on site, so I ended up taking many weapons, physically stopping and de-escalating fights, calling 911, etc. It was a very dangerous job, and I took scary weapons, took great physical risks to keep my students and staff safe in this very challenging environment, while trying to keep a focus on academic gains, interventions, and improving test scores.
The most rewarding part, was succeeding against all odds with the students, the strong relationships that were built with staff, students, parents, and all the wonderful community partners!!!! – less