by ISR Guest Author
I’d bet money that just like me, experienced, well-qualified educators have been railroaded out of international schools by incompetent, inept administrators who feel threatened by teachers better qualified for their position. This is what happened to me:
Two days after our respected elementary principal walked out in utter frustration, our director, in his infinite wisdom, gave the leadership position to his good buddy and drinking partner, a guy with 3 years teaching experience. A local hire took over his now vacant 2nd grade classroom.
At the time of the buddy’s promotion, I’d been overseas for 12 years, in 4 different schools. Witnessing the new principal flounder badly at his first, full elementary faculty meeting, I felt motivated to offer assistance, in private, of course. It was obvious the guy was in way over his head. Our classrooms having been previously adjacent, I felt we had formed a professional friendship. I also thought he would welcome any help he could get. My mistake!
Point blank, he said he was now to be addressed as Mr. B. He expected to be treated with respect. And if he wanted help he would ask for it. No doubt he was feeling inadequate.
About two weeks after this encounter, I escorted a boy to the nurse’s office. As I guided him through the door to the infirmary, I placed my hand on the kid’s shoulder. Our new principal was passing by as I said good morning and walked into the nurse’s office.
That afternoon the principal called me in to see him. His buddy, the director, was waiting. I was immediately accused of ‘inappropriately touching’ a student. There was nothing I could say in my defense. The two of them had conspired to create a ‘serious’ case (as they put it) against me.
I was summarily put on suspension without pay, then fired two weeks later — effective immediately. I was told to consider myself lucky the Board of Directors or Ministry of Education hadn’t gotten wind of the issue. I packed my belongings and left the following week, at my own expense.
My crime? I had never gotten along well with the director, an insecure, inexperienced, underqualified guy hired by the school owner to be his right-hand man, his ‘heavy.’ Admittedly, I made the repeated mistake of offering suggestions at full-school faculty meetings. They went unwelcomed. I was, in effect, an independent thinker attempting to contribute to the greater good. Wasn’t that exactly what the school mission statement promised to make out of the students? Apparently they wanted that attribute practiced someplace else…
My experience is not unique, of that I am certain. International educators are strictly at the mercy of their administrators. Labor laws are minimal, if even enforced at all, leaving administrators with an agenda virtually free to exercise their unbridled will over a teaching staff. Back home these individuals would be brought up on charges, sued, prosecuted and in some cases, imprisoned.
I’ve kept the name of the school, my name and those involved out of this article because, truthfully, I’m afraid of what they are capable of if I were to name them. For obvious reasons I can’t use this school as a reference. It appears the consequence of their charade are more far-reaching than I had thought.
Is my situation an isolated incidence? Trumped-up charges, in my opinion, are a tried and true method to get rid of teachers whose advanced degrees, experience and ideas make an underqualified administrator feel inadequate.
ISR Guest Author
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