From A Concerned Teacher

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It’s Easy To Say “No”, But Saying “Yes” Will Make A Difference

Mr. Glassman,

I am a returning HCPS teacher. I taught in the county from 2003-2009 before taking time to raise my children and just returned to the classroom this past fall in 2018. My own two children are HCPS students. I am also a single mom. In making my decision to return to teaching this past fall, I explored other options in other counties that pay teachers more than HCPS. Teachers obviously do not “do” their job for the money, but we do need to pay our bills. Even though HCPS pay is low, I never pursued any of those other options because of my love for Harford County. I lived in this county for some of my childhood and have lived here for the past 14 years as an adult. I work here and my children go to school here. This is a beautiful county with a lot to offer and I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I LOVE this county. I believe the schools in this county were once those in which citizens sought out for their children because of our high reputation. It is an absolute shame that I cannot write that I believe this is still the case.

Since I am a rehire, I am one of those teachers whose job is on the “chopping block” for next school year. Mr. Glassman, I know you receive a ton of e-mails each day. There is no way you can read all of them. I ask you, if you read any part of this or remember any part of this, to read this part carefully. I was sitting quietly until I read the comment you made yesterday that “sometimes you just have to tell people no.” Mr. Glassman, I am forced to tell people “no” every single day. When my children ask me to spend time with them in the mornings when I need to leave early to get my classroom ready, I tell them “No, I can’t right now, Mommy needs to go to work.” When those same children ask me to do things with them in the evening, I often tell them “No, I can’t right now, I need to do school work.” When my children ask me to do things with them on the weekend, I often say “No, I can’t right now because I have schoolwork to do to get ready for the week.” When my students ask me if we can do an activity in our classroom which requires adequate space, I tell them “No, because we don’t have enough room.” We have 25+ desks in every classroom in my school building because of the number of kids in each class. When my students ask to get a drink of water in my classroom, I must tell them “no” because the water in my classroom was turned off because of high amounts of lead. When these same students ask if they will ever be able to play on a better playground than the one we have to provide for them that is in extreme need of a makeover, I tell them “no” because there is not enough money.

Mr. Glassman, I work in a school that is operating at 113% capacity the last I heard. We have classrooms in my building with over 30 students and 30 desks in a small space. Even with all of these “no” answers, teachers persevere and give so many more “yes” responses to their students. Yes, I will come in two hours each day before school starts to prepare for our day. Yes, I will greet you with a smile each morning you walk into my classroom. Yes, I will make sure to the best of my ability that this is a safe, welcoming, fun, meaningful learning experience for you since you spend 7 hours of each day in this space. Yes, I will stay after school to ensure I am ready for the following day when you walk back through these doors. Yes, I will take work home in the evenings. Yes, I will complete work on the weekends. Yes, I will do everything I possibly can with the little pay I make because I care about you and I am here for you and am going to do the best job I can for you with the little resources I have.

Mr. Glassman, I urge to you come spend an entire day in an elementary school classroom. You are welcome to come into mine whenever you are able. I know it would be eye opening for you. No one knows what obstacles someone faces until they experience it for themselves. I know your job is difficult, but I don’t know exactly how difficult and the tasks which are required of you each day because I’ve never lived it. You do not know what I or other teachers in the county do each and every day because, as far as I know, you’ve never lived it. If you came into my classroom, you would see a dedicated teacher and her wonderful, caring, hard-working students. You would see a teacher who arrived early, stays late, often eats as she works through her 25 minute lunch, waits to use the restroom until her 45 minute planning time, and who carries a heavy bag of school work to and from school each day. You would also see a class full of fantastic students who are caring, compassionate, supportive, encouraging, determined, and resilient. Students and teachers WHO DESERVE MORE; students and teachers who deserve SO MUCH MORE THAN NO. While you’re there, you can see how we do so much with so little.

My school is already at 113% capacity and we are losing two teaching positions for next school year as of now. I am one of them. Class sizes will continue to increase. I would ask that you inquire while you are in my school to other teachers, staff, administration, and my students and their parents as to whether or not they would like to see me return next school year and record how many say “no.” I would then ask you to answer my students who ask me if I will still be a teacher there next year by saying (as I do every time I am asked “I don’t know”) “no.” All while I continue to smile and do my job to the best of my ability because I love my students and want what is best for them.

Mr. Glassman, if you would come to my classroom, my students will unknowingly remind you of those character traits of compassion, empathy, and kindness which I know you possess and neglected to share during your interview with the statement you made. I was sitting back during all of this until I read that statement. I don’t promote that kind of attitude in my classroom and I cannot sit back any longer when a distinguished representative in my beloved county shows character traits that are the exact opposite of what I try my best to instill in the students in my classroom.

Mr. Glassman, the way you have presented information to the citizens of this county is misleading. We are asking you to turn your “no” into a YES because YOU have the power to do so. As we tell our students all the time, just because you haven’t done something YET doesn’t mean you can’t. I believe you have the knowledge and the power to make this better. I believe you want better for your county, for your teachers, for your students, for our future. I believe you can fix this. Mr. Glassman, I urge you to turn my beliefs into reality, for the betterment of our community as a whole.

Thank you for your time.

Tiffany Heath
HCPS Teacher
Harford County Citizen

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