Sometimes You Gotta View It As a Gift

This is a follow up to a portion of This Week's Thoughts.  Last evening, June 6, 2016, I was an Action Item on the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education Meeting.  The Action: to nonrenew my contract.

Nonrenewing means you don't have a job.  Typically, when someone is going to fire you, they do a political nicety and allow you to resign.  Resigning when you're about to get fired has never sat well with me, nor has the phrase, "We're going to let you go." 

I'm not sure if it's more a problem of ethics or language, but I also hate the logic.  The logic implies that if you 'resign' you're better off in the future; that if you resign, you can spin the firing as something you choose.  But from my view, that same logic breaks down the second anyone asks: Why did you resign? 

Perhaps that's just me. 


I was issued a nonrenewal.  It was a very interesting experience.  The human resources department issued a statement about me to the Board of Education.  Important side note: rather than resign, I elected to speak to the Board.  (It should be public record, as that was my request, and I'll post the video when I get it.)  After this, and a follow up from HR, the Board of Education voted on the nonrenewal. 

Going into the thing, I thought there was about a 3% chance I'd win.  I realized I had no power, don't have 'official' documents, and have had enough authority to know it is easy to use power to your advantage.  But the vote went: 7-2.  There were 2 votes to keep me around. 

I am very appreciative of those two votes.  

But the point is that sometimes life hands you something, and you get to choose how to view it.  And this, to me, is a gift.  I care about urban education.  I care about the kids in my class.  I want their success, believe in the importance of school for my students, and am willing to take a lot bullshit to get that done.  It's taken a toll on my body.  I'm fatter, more tired, more stressed.  But, now, I don't have to worry about this.  This is no longer my concern. 

In my time with GRPS, I've spoken with everyone I can.  This ranges from department chairs to the school board, and I was voted out.  There is a freedom that comes from this.  A freedom to pursue passions, to write the future, to choose the next step. 

This is the gift.