The following letter was written by former Wexler-Grant 1st grade teacher Mary Healy, who resigned from her New Haven Public Schools job earlier this year.
Healy originally wrote this letter on Sept. 14. She then sent it by email to the Board of Education on Wednesday night to explain why she left after working for 10 years in a district she hoped to spend her whole career in.
The Independent is reprinting Healy’s letter/email with the author’s permission. Click here to read another recent Independent article about a teacher who left, and about what NHPS is doing to try to retain local educators.
I resigned my teaching position from New Haven Public Schools today. My purpose in writing to you is to explain why I did so.
I am a lifelong New Haven resident. My mother is a NHPS educator; I volunteered in her classroom starting in high school. My husband is a NHPS educator (who I met in college and convinced to move here). My daughter is a NHPS student and my son will be a NHPS student in two years. I was a NHPS educator for 10 years and planned to be a lifetime NHPS educator. Resigning from this district was never a consideration until August 23. I was prepared to retire in my first grade classroom at Wexler-Grant.
Since much of the current discussion surrounding teaching positions centers around vacancies, I will also note that my career began by filling a vacancy after the start of SY 12 – 13. I was fulfilling a long-term substitute position at Mauro Sheridan when a second grade teacher at Augusta Lewis Troup School resigned. I applied for the position and took over that classroom about six weeks into the school year. Two other teachers began the same day as I did, filling vacancies. Both of those teachers have also resigned from NHPS. Vacancies in this district are not a new problem created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
New Haven was not a stepping stone for me. It was not simply the first district that hired me. I wanted to work in New Haven. I wanted to serve the community I live in. I am devastated that I had to make the choice to resign, but have no hesitations that it is the right decision.
My resignation is a direct result of the last minute consolidation of classrooms at Wexler-Grant and my involuntary transfer the day before teachers began work. I was given a directive about my move from first grade to fourth grade and not invited into a conversation. I would also like to note that the fourth grade position was not a vacancy. The fourth grade teacher was moved to a new position at Wexler-Grant. Now that I have resigned, it is a true vacancy.
I worked with my union leadership to propose compromises and alternative solutions. All proposals were rejected. I feel as though I was treated as a number, a piece on a gameboard. I was plucked from my classroom and stuck in a new one to seemingly solve a teacher vacancy/low student enrollment problem. A problem that was not created overnight. It was ignored for months, if not years. I have always had low student enrollment in my four years at Wexler-Grant. According to my count, Wexler-Grant has fewer teaching vacancies to begin SY 22 – 23 than it did SY 21 – 22. One of the intentions of ESSER funds is to lower class sizes in the primary grades, but instead my former partner now has 20 first graders instead of 10. I have heard the claim that the rearranging of teachers is intended to increase teachers in “student facing” positions. I wonder how many teachers in non-”student facing” positions have been directed back to classrooms. Were coaches, magnet resource teachers, culture and climate specialists, and various other positions filled by teachers eliminated? Or was it just primary classrooms in some of the most under-performing schools in the district?
I care deeply about my students. I spent almost 6 unpaid hours on Monday, August 22 (the day before my involuntary transfer) setting up my first grade classroom. This was the first day we were permitted into the building. I left my own children and took advantage of the extra time because there is never enough time built into the teacher setup days to create a classroom environment ready for five and six year-olds. My classroom was disgusting when I moved into it in 2018. It took me years to clean it out and organize it on my own time. I spent the month of August…
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