I sat in the chair across from The Beast's desk for what seemed like hours. There was a knot in my throat so big I was sure it was going to choke me. I took a deep breath and swallowed it down, willing myself NOT to let my emotions take over. Promising I could cry when I left, but not a minute before.
I knew It was taking Its time, just to be an ass hole. I tried working on getting my thoughts together. I still didn't know what this was regarding, but I was pretty sure I was going to be punished for not meeting with them at the conference that morning. I was ready with my ammo for that. In the back of my mind I knew I was still fighting an uphill battle, but I was feeling a little better knowing I had some board members, the super intendent, and an MSTA rep in the know. At least I hadn't fought alone.
The only solace I had at that moment was that It went to get Mr. Assistant. He was an ally. He was a church friend. He had tried to work with me, and he saw the discrepencies in the stories. He was confused by them, but he got it. And he was a witness. One I was sure would tell the truth. So It couldn't twist this meeting in any way.
Finally they came in and took their seats. He already had a sympathetic look on his face, which I knew wasn't good. He looked like a spectator at a crucifixion. Like he knew it was coming, and was sorry even though I didn't know what for.
"Well. I just wanted to talk with you and see what you were thinking," It started. I sat staring at It. It was going to have to give me more than that. "What I mean, is are you planning on turning in your resignation before the board meeting this month?" It asked sweetly, as if It wasn't sabotaging me.
"No," I said with confusion in my voice. "I'm not planning on resigning," I told It bluntly.
"Well I know you're unhappy here-" It argued, but I cut It off.
"It's not that I'm unhappy HERE," I corrected, "I'm unhappy with the way I am treated here this year. I loved it here last year, so it's not the school. It's the situation," I said, making my point without directly blaming It.
"Well I know you've been looking at other jobs," It said with a snotty tone. I'm not sure HOW It knew I was looking to this day. It had to have been watching my every move online. The truth is I had been warned this might be coming, and I was seeing what was open.
"Just because I look to see what's available doesn't mean I plan on leaving," I told It. "I always keep my options open. Never know when there might be a better opportunity," I said. It couldn't "fire" me because I looked at other jobs. I hadn't even applied for anything. "I'm very frustrated with the way I have been singled-out this year, so naturally I'm going to look and see if there is a better situation out there for me," I started. I don't know where it all came from, but I figured it was now or never. "All year it's been the same thing. In our meeting just last week you apologized for "the way things had gone," then you turned right around and told Mr. English that you didn't want to renew my contract-behind my back," I confided. Up to that point I had protected Mr. English, not wanting to throw him under the bus, and not wanting It to know he was informing me of all the covert operations. "You tell him I'm not doing a good job, then when I ask you point-blank what I can work on you tell me you don't have concerns," I added. She shook her head in denial and plastered a look of confusion on her face. "I'm tired of you telling me I'm doing fine and don't have any issues, then going behind my back, even to the board meeting, and talking about everything I'm supposedly doing wrong!" I fired off.
"Well, there's a point in itself. No one should know WHAT is said at board meeting, so it concerns me that security has been breached," It expressed.
"YOU TOLD MR. ENGLISH and he told me!" I corrected. True, I had been warned by a board member, but after that Mr. English confirmed that, and got his information straight from The Beast.
"Oh. Well," It was becoming flustered. It hadn't expected me to bring up these points in front of Mr. Assistant, and It hated when someone challenged it or called out Its lie, because It wasn't a fast thinker. "There are plenty of issues we have talked about, Will among them," It argued.
"Another situation that was completely misconstrued," I fought back.
"Andrea I had to UNLOCK your door to find you two in the corner together!" It tried to keep Its voice down, but I could tell It was losing patience.
"That's not true. There were other kids in the room. I have signed statements from EVERYONE who was in there that day, who saw you come in, and were there when you left," I told It. It simply shook Its head in denial. It continued the conversation, though it was evident no one was open to hearing my side of the story, or my point of view. Mr. Assistant even interjected some comments in support of The Beast, even though he didn't know first-hand about ANY of the situations. I just looked at him like, "How could you?" Silence would have been better than anything.
Finally It dropped the bomb. "I'm not going to renew your contract," It said, as if pulling out the big guns.
"Fine. That's your perrogative. You go right ahead. But I'm not going to resign. I want to be here, I love this school, and this is my home. You won't bully me into resigning just because you don't like me," I said frankly. "If I'm not here next year it's going to be all YOUR doing, not mine," I said.
Mr. Assistant interjected. "I don't think you get what It's saying. You won't have a chance to "fight" for your job. It will be done in closed session. The board will ask about renewals, and It will not recommend your renewal. You'll never have the chance to say, 'Well she said,' or 'Well I did,' Really It is doing you a service by giving you the chance to resign," he concluded. I just shook my head at him. In the back of my mind I HOPED that the board members and super intendent might have concerns and stand up for me. After all, it was only Its recommendation. The board had the power to vote however they chose to.
"Well what a service," I said snidely. "You know, I'm not hard to work with. I always do everything I am asked. I have taught three years now, and worked in schools for years before this, and I have never ONCE had any problem with any administrator," I said.
She then began reading things off the eight million evaluations she'd done. Most of them were walk-throughs, so I didn't get to sign them or even see half of them.
"I know what they say," I said. "I just find it ironic I've never had negative evaluations until now. Mr. Boss didn't seem to have these concerns," I said.
"You think Bob Boss didn't have concerns?" she scoffed.
"Oh I know he had concerns, but I knew immediately what they were. He was in my room many times saying, 'you know I think you could do better with this, what can we do to work on it?' He always addressed his concerns with me, and I always worked to correct or strengthen anything he brought to my attention. He and I worked together to create a discipline plan for a difficult class, and we worked out a rough schedule I still use today to keep the kids busy and moving throughout the hour. He didn't tell me 'good job,' then go stab me in the back," I said, more to Mr. Assistant than to The Beast. Just to let him know he had no business having a position in this conversation because he had NO IDEA about any of it.
She began reading again from her evaluations.
"There's no need to read them!" I raised my voice. "I know what they say, and I disagree with a lot of it. I signed them not knowing I had the option NOT to. Some of them have blatant bold-faced lies in them, like the one where you said no student work displayed, when there was a bulletin board at the front of the room with student work on it."
"Are you calling me a LIAR!?!?" It roared. I wanted to just say, "Uh, yeah." but I didn't.
"I didn't call you a liar. But it's clear that your perception of what happened is VERY different from what I saw in most situations, and I have other people who can vouch for me," I told It.
"Well, it's very clear you don't support me as principal and you never will, therefore you really have no business here." It said so definitely.
"It's not my JOB to support you, it's your job to support ME as one of your teachers and work with me to help me be the best, not work against me because you have some personal vendetta," I said cooly. BAM. I felt like I had put It in Its place if nothing else.
Mr. Assistant looked shocked.
"I think what Its saying is that if you think It is 'out to get you' as you put it, that relationship is never going to be mended, and we need to look at what's best for everyone involved, especially the students," he chimed in. I wanted to punch him. I had the advantage of intelligence over It, and here he was helping It think. He turned to The Beast. "I thought things were better after the meeting a couple of weeks ago [sorry, that should be a post, but I have NO recollection of that meeting whatsoever. The best I can gather is we had a meeting in which The Beast apologized and wanted to start fresh, but told Mr. English immediately after that It would not renew me], but then when I brought it up to Andrea at church last week it seemed there were still underlying issues," he added. I gave him the death look. How dare he. I remember the moment all too well....
We had just had our meeting the week before, but on Friday Mr. English confided to me that The Beast told him immediately after the meeting It was not going to renew me. I was still dealing with all the issues from school, but found comfort in my Sundays at church. That particular Sunday I'd come in and sat down just before my mom came in. Chloe was with me, and we were getting situated in the pew when Mr. Assistant came over to greet us.
"Hey, how's it going?" he asked.
"Ok I guess," I said.
"Seems like things are going a lot better with The Beast since the meeting, huh?" he asked. I couldn't hold back the tears. Sundays were hard for me anyway, knowing I had a full week ahead of me, and here he was bringing up school, and reminding me of the back-stabber and Its plot to take me down. Tears filled my eyes and I walked away. He never apologized, never said another word. He simply went back to his seat, and I sat through church crying, wondering what I was going to do, where I was going to find a job if I lost this one, and wondering how I was going to make ends meet if I didn't find one.
"I don't think anything we discuss at church has any place in this room," I threatened. I was so angry I couldn't see straight. He had an "oops" look on his face.
The two of them continued arguing and pressing the "non-team player" issue, and twisting situations until I couldn't take it anymore.
"FINE!" I said, pushing my chair back hard. "I don't want to work another minute for you, anyway," I said. "You'll have my resignation TOMORROW!" I said, slamming the door behind me. Tears flooded my face, and I noticed the office staff staring. I didn't care. I had NOTHING to lose now, and I planned to tell my story. I knew I had to keep quiet for a few more weeks, because I needed to try to get another job, but after that the gloves were coming off.
I went to see my mom and left quickly. I went home and typed my resignation. I wanted to make sure it was clear The Beast didn't fire me, that I was quitting. I wanted to make sure It couldn't twist ONE. MORE. THING. in my life. After a year of turmoil and fighting with every fiber of my being to keep this job, I suddenly felt so free. Like a drowning person who finally stops fighting and lets go, peacefully crossing over from life to death.
I had no idea, though, that someone would jump in after me just at the last minute, or that "paramedics" would work on me for hours, trying to bring life to my situation once again. But that's for another day :)