“Teachers’ dissatisfaction with Leopold principal reaches boiling point”

Kurt Gutnecht writing in the Fitchburg Star: [96K PDF]

The management of Principal Mary Hyde has prompted a near revolt among teachers and staff members at Leopold Elementary School.
Discontent among teachers has been simmering for years and came to the forefront recently when Hyde, who’s been principal at the school for six years, decided to terminate a shared teaching arrangement that had previously been praised by Hyde and others.
Sue Talarczyk, who has had such an arrangement with Sue Wagner for seven years, unsuccessfully sought a fuller explanation for Hyde’s decision. Ninety-one teachers and staff members at the school signed a petition asking Hyde to reconsider the termination.
Appeals to district administrators to review Hyde’s decision were also unsuccessful.
Several teachers characterized Hyde as insensitive, intimidating and inconsiderate. All except Talarczyk asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
Teachers interviewed for this article said Hyde made decisions unilaterally, without weighing the opinions of teachers and staff members. had actively solicited parents’support.

34 thoughts on ““Teachers’ dissatisfaction with Leopold principal reaches boiling point””

  1. The board of education needs to look into this situation. I had heard of these same allegations from staff at Glendale when she was there also.
    Since Mary has been at Leopold, a large number of teachers have since her rein. She sits in her office, only knows the children who are in trouble, and has no idea who parents are unless they are “involved” in her causes. She knew me and my kids because of my involvement, yet, she still doesn’t know a friend of mine who still volunteers in the school after 12 years, has had children at the school since Mary has been at the school. She seldom answers emails, in fact, will admit she doesn’t often look at them.
    Administration looks at numbers and since Mary Hyde has been at Leopold, the numbers have improved. They fail to remember that when Mary went to Leopold, so did an assistant principal position. Before that we experienced two principals, both who either knew every child’s name (same number of kids). Now, the general sentament among staff is to keep your mouth quiet and your head down or you will be the next one on her chopping block. She doesn’t advocate for the school and the children’s needs, she instead states these are the district’s decisions.
    Shouldn’t the board be looking at situations where the school enrollment isn’t representative of it’s community? A large number of Fitchburg families have chosen private schooling or moving vs. dealing with Mary Hyde. Yes, there are a number of families who are attending private schools for truly for religious reasons. But why are others? I am amazed the no one from the district has ever questioned us for leaving the district. In order for the district to get better is to understand where they are not being effective. The same thing goes with no one asking staff why they have left Leopold since the announcement of when she was going to move to Leopold. Maybe someone is afraid of what they would fine.

  2. >>> “Theresa Sanders” 07/31/06 11:48 AM >>>
    I am writing in response to an article published in your paper. The
    article was about Leopold school, and in particular the principal of the
    school Mary Hyde. I understand that a few of the teachers at the school
    are not happy with decision to eliminate the kindergarten job share
    position. This was not a popular decision with some of the staff.
    However, I was deeply concerned how this article took these feelings
    over this matter and broadened them into a personal attack against Mary
    Hyde. Mary Hyde is not what your article leads readers to believe. She
    is very interested in what staff thinks and values their opinions. The
    school has several action teams run by staff to address the running,
    improving and implementation of school concerns and issues. So the idea
    that the school is run by a dictator is harsh and unjustified. I have
    never seen a woman work so hard to make sure all children receive the
    best education. She works long hours and is always willing to take the
    time and support her staff in any way she can. To say she has mental
    health issues and doesn’t support her staff is untrue and unfair. I
    hope Mary Hyde does continue to stay at Leopold Elementary.
    We need her leadership. We need her willingness to make tough
    decisions, and stand behind decisions that are not always popular with
    some of the staff, to move the school in the right direction. I hope
    Mary Hyde stays at Leopold a very long time. I admire her vision, I
    respect her leadership, I look up to her as a kind , compassionate
    person. I consider it an honor to work at the school with her as the
    principal and wouldn’t want it any other way.
    Theresa Sanders
    2nd grade Teacher
    Leopold Elementary

  3. I personally have not dealt with Leopold and/or Mary Hyde much at all. I do know Sue Wagner, and consider her to be one of the most committed and competent teachers I know. She and her co-teacher have been taking on alternating ESL and special ed concentrated classes for several years. Their set up has been working very well from what I have heard from other teachers (and parents) there too. As was Theresa above though, I was kind of surprised by how personal the attck of that article seemed to be on Ms Hyde. Unlike Theresa seems to have, however, I have heard from many teachers who would agree with the general opinion of keep your head down and your mouth closed, and just keep doing the best you can with “your” kids. I know a couple of teachers who used to be at Leopold and left because of where they saw it going, and one who left Leopold in personal mental health crisis, in part because of the leadership circle there and how it worked. I certainly do not think the school should be made even larger e and when it is already so huge and crowded – especially when it is so unclear whether it is working at all, as large as it already is and run the way it is.

  4. Dear Theresa,
    I am happy to hear that you are happy with your experience with Leopold. When 91 staff members signed this petition, that is more than a few. You are a newer teacher and may not realize that turnover rates are low among schools where there is a good working environment.Until Mary came on board, the only way Leopold teachers left were retirement. Since Mary Hyde has taken over there has been approximately a 50% turnover in staff. Yes, some have retired, many have transferred or “convinced” of early retirement. Many of the “newer” teachers of the school are also new to teaching, in my view, so she can mold them to her standards. A new teacher will not question her, which is the way she runs the ship. How many of the older teachers are involved in these “committees” she has, and how many of these “committees” are not her agenda? If someone stands up and disagrees with Mary, she will make life rough for them, and figure out how to work them out of the school. The school had a lot more shared positions when she came. Almost all of those positions have been eliminated.
    Could this principal come into your room and know the names of all (or even most) of your children? Could Ms. Hyde recognize, (by name or even who their children are), your parent volunteers, specially your regulars? I know of volunteers who Mary who acts like she has never met them before even though their kids have been at the school and the parent was very involved in more than just the classroom. The two principals that Leopold had for 10 years or so before Mary, where able to do this and also new a little about each child. They did not sit in their office or downtown, they were active in the school, knowing what was happening throughout the building. (The number of children hasn’t changed either, it has been over 600 for many, many years) They would show up for class presentations (without having an invite sent), read with kids in the classroom, and care about each member of the Leopold community. I have never gotten this feeling from Ms. Mary Hyde.

  5. Can anyone shed any light on why Mary Hyde ended the job sharing? This seems to be all the newspaper reported:
    “In an interview, Hyde cited “problematical communication” for discontinuing the job share arrangement between Talarczyk and Wagner. She refused to say whether there had been any complaints about the teaching arrangement, citing the confidentiality of personnel matters.”

  6. I am not trying to justify ending job shares (I personally would love one!), but I can tell you a few reasons why they have a ended in general. For one thing, the district is trying to cut money – as usual over the past five-plus years. When you have a job share, the district has to provide both teachers with health insurance, vacation days, etc. This gets expensive in a hurry, and salaries and benefits are major expenditure areas as it is. There is no way to “pass” on such double benefit expenses either, since – it is my understanding – the union requires the district to give both people benefits, or they won’t support the job share (and it therefore, won’t happen). I know that some job shares trade off days, or do alternate weeks of one person MWF and the other TThF, etc. It gets confusing at times to keep track of who is where what week, who is going to what meetings or staff development days, or who takes on which extra duties when, such as playground or lunchroom coverage (especially if there is “problematical communication” – ‘problematical’ is not a word, by the way).
    As I say, I personally think job shares are womderful in many cases – they are great for both teachers/employees if they really want to keep working because the enjoy it, but either don’t need the full-time income or are having personal life complcations that make it hard to be full-time (I am NOT saying any of these apply in Sue and Sue’s case, but issues such as multiple very young children, chronic health problems, etc.).
    My understanding also is that there were many more job shares that were ended by Mary’s predecessor at Leopold for similar reasons, and that Mary is certainly no more guilty (and some would say less) of playing favorites. Every manager or administrator in any profession is only human, and humans tend to naturally favor people who were their own hires or who believe in similar causes or practices to their own. I am certain from what I hear in educational circles around here that there are just as many teachers who have left Leopold before Mary because of problems with the previous principals, as there have been since she took over. Maybe the reasons for those departures were not allowed to be as well known – but they were definitely because people felt “chased” out by Pat or Donna. “You can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

  7. I can’t speak to the decision in this particular case because that is a building-level decision that I would not want to second guess.
    I can share that the issue of part-time appointments, whether shared jobs or jobs that are part-time for other reasons, was part of the board’s budget discussions this year. Anyone working 19 hours/week or more is eligible for full benefits, which ends up being an expensive proposition as the cost of benefits continues to rise.
    I agree that job sharing can be a great benefit for many reasons. Similarly, I can see situations where it might make sense to have two part-time people doing different jobs if it isn’t possible to have two full time people under the current budget. The real issue is whether the district can afford to pay the equivalent of two benefit packages for a position that is one full time equivalent. I don’t think there is any definitive answer, but expect that it is an area that will be under scrutiny until the funding picture improves.

  8. If the reason for cutting one staff member was do to “budget cuts” then why are other similar positions still being done at Leopold as well as other schools within the district? My understanding was that the job share positions had to how the benefits where being divided up (health benefits where equivalent to one full time position). Now I can’t say for sure this was the case, but that was my understanding a few years ago.
    While Donna was at Leopold, the only teachers who left where retired staff, in fact, more job share positions where created under her. People (parents and staff) did suffer with some disorganization under her direction. Some people were frustrated with Pat’s direction also, but both of these people knew the kids, and would listen to others (whether parents or staff) Mary doesn’t listen to anyone, which was the “feeling” when she was at Glendale also. I don’t feel that a principal can always advocate what the district administrators state. District people are not in the classroom, they are not the students who are being affected by some of the decisions. In my view, a good administrator looks at the whole situation and is an advocate for what is best for the student and what is exactly happening in the classroom. Not a puppet from those downtown.

  9. Since so many people feel qualified speaking about the experiences of Glendale teachers, I thought I would speak as someone who worked at Glendale while Mary was there. I speak also as the parent of a child who attends Glendale.
    First of all, I considered it an absolute privilege to work with and for Mary. She was a strong leader with high expectations for her staff, and she prodded us to be creative, innovative and ready to work hard. People who didn’t want to change the way they had always done things, and people who generalized their reactions to particular decisions they didn’t like, seemed least likely to be happy. Teachers who were excited about embracing a range of challenges seemed most likely to be happy. As in most schools I have worked in and attended, the satisfaction of most staff was fluid, depending on the day, month or issue. However, I would continually hear Glendale “before and after” stories from staff I worked with, and I couldn’t even visualize the “pre-Mary” climate they described, so completely had some aspects of the school been successfully transformed. Final decisions were Mary’s. The recommendations came from action teams and a steering committee. My recollection of Mary at meetings is of someone listening, usually to multiple opinions. When the staff could reach consensus about how to move towards an improvement or change, she generally went with it. When there was not consensus, and she had to make a decision for the school, clearly not everyone was going to like it.
    It may be easier to work with leaders who are focused on their popularity or on “not making waves”. Change makes people angry and anxious. It is stressful and it often requires people to give up certain autonomies or situations that they enjoyed. Sometimes those changes prove to be wrong, sometimes they prove to be right. They are almost always controversial. Sometimes the people faced with the change make the decision to start over someplace else. Recognizing when something no longer fits their particular needs, and doing something about it, is appropriate. Publicly, anonymously, and personally attacking your leadership is not appropriate: it’s appalling.
    I have to wonder if the teachers who spewed all that bitterness to the Fitchburg Star realize how dysfunctional they made Leopold sound. I find that incredibly sad, because personally, I am thrilled to have my own child attending Leopold. She has had a wonderful experience and a quality education. I am continually impressed by the dedication of the teachers she has had and of the many opportunities that Leopold offers to its students. I also recognize that my daughter entered school with certain privileges that make it easier for her to succeed and achieve; and I believe that students entering without those privileges deserve that same quality. I don’t think that means my daughter has to lose anything, but it does mean that at Leopold, as in my own school, we have to be ever willing to grow and change and take on new ways of doing things—disappointments and all.

  10. The MMSD administration’s action shouldn’t get lost in this discussion. The newpaper reported:
    “Appeals to district administrators to review Hyde’s decision were also unsuccessful. . . .
    “Although I understand you are upset with the dissolving of this job share, administration supports Principal Hyde’s decision. Principals have always retained the right to assign staff within their building. After talking to Principal Hyde, she has made this decision based on what she feels is best practice for the needs of Leopold Elementary School,” Susan Abplanalp, assistant superintendent for the district, wrote to Talarczyk.”
    This superintendent and administration displayed their usual modus operandi: ignore, deny, or dismiss any input that comes from outside of the Doyle Building, whether the issue is connected math, Reading Recovery, English 10, the budget process, TAG, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

  11. Clarification on my previous post. My child attends Leopold (as I said at the bottom, not Glendale, as I said at the top–mea culpa).

  12. In response to the post that says, a principal would not be “a puppet from those downtown,” a principal does not dare to say anything other than what downtown says. Otherwise, that is the end of a career in MMSD. Every teacher inservice day or School Improvement Plan is carefully orchestrated by a “facilitator” to be exactly what downtown has stated.
    In an earlier post a teacher from Leopold said, “the school has several action teams run by staff to address the running, improving and implementation of school concerns and issues.” Every school is required to have the same actions teams where exhausted teachers, social workers, psychologists, and educational assistants supposedly make decisions about their school. The truth is there is little decision making going on at those meetings. The decisions made at those meetings across the district have very little flexibility. The decisions have already made from downtown. Many glossy words and techniques are used to convince everyone, including parents and young naive teachers that decisions happen at the table, but that is just not the case.

  13. TeacherL,
    Your post would be a wonderful letter to the editor of the Fitchburg Star. Many teachers at Leopold are working on a letter to the editor. Not all of the staff agrees with the sentiments of the teachers quoted in the article. Yes, 91 people petitioned Mary to reconsider ending the job-share. But, that does not mean that 91 people at our school think that she is comparable to a North Korean dictator, mentally unstable, or are ready for a revolt. It is a shame that all of us at Leopold were painted with the same broad brush. I will post the letter that we are working on once all of the final revisions have been made.

  14. Dear Teacher X,
    I have been a parent in the District for eleven years. My husband and I have served on PTO boards, been on SIP committees, and participated in District focus groups. I have watched new principal hires, both at my own schools and elsewhere in the District — not to mention the hires of District level administrators and other staff (e.g., Director of Teaching and Learning). I have always suspected that things work the way you say they do in your post. It is both validating and demoralizing to read your words.
    Clearly, someone has a grand plan for the MMSD and is controlling things every step along the way. You sign on to the grand plan when you’re hired — or promoted. As the grand plan unfolds, you don’t dare speak out against it, for fear of repercussions.
    This is all one reason why I believe that East, LaFollette and Memorial will eventually be like West … and why I believe only a District-wide coalition will stop it.
    Thank you, Teacher X, for your honesty and courage.

  15. Teacher X,
    Although I realize that your comment was of a more general nature, I take a bit of offense when you write:
    “Many glossy words and techniques are used to convince everyone, including parents and young naive teachers that decisions happen at the table, but that is just not the case”.
    I consider myself neither young, nor naive. I think it is true that sometimes the parameters within which we actually have choice are limited, but I do in fact think that there are a number of choices that ARE in the hands of staff–should they choose to accept the parameters and work on the parts that are up for discussion. Everything is not up for discussion, true. I can think of no work environment in which everything is. Choosing to work with the district leadership in hopes of moving forward; recognizing the limits of the autonomy our positions allow (those who can’t live with it should go on to become administrators with all the responsibility, stress and power that entails); and providing consistent, honest, respectful and non-adversarial feedback does not make us naive. It makes us productive.

  16. Here is a copy of th letter that was submitted to the Fitchburg Star…
    Dear Editor,
    We, the following members of the Leopold staff, would like to express a different point of view than that expressed in the July 27th article that appeared in the “Fitchburg Star” entitled: “Teachers’ dissatisfaction with Leopold principal reaches boiling point”. While your article does not mention how many teachers were actually interviewed for the article, or that they are only expressing their ‘opinions’, the staff below would like to respond to the misleading characterization of Mary Hyde and overgeneralization of teacher and staff morale at Leopold Elementary School.
    The views/opinions represented by the few anonymous teachers (referred to as ‘several’) interviewed for the article does not accurately reflect our Leopold community as a whole. Mary Hyde, who, with the teachers and staff, has led our school to be named “A Wisconsin School of Promise”. Mary Hyde, like all principals, has had disagreements with teachers on how to best meet the needs of our students. However, comparing her to a North Korean dictator is not only inaccurate, but also an insulting hyperbole. Words used in your article to describe Ms. Hyde were not only inaccurate, but unnecessarily inflammatory, derogatory, insulting, and misleading. Leopold parents and the Leopold community should be aware that Ms. Hyde is ultimately responsible for in excess of 650 students and over 110 staff members. In fact, Mary Hyde also received the “Distinguished Service Award” last year. This is a very high honor in the district. Only one administrator is honored each year, and she was that person among many.
    Many of the teachers and staff did sign the petition to ask Mary Hyde to reconsider her position on job-sharing. Eliminating a job-share position was not a popular decision. However, to classify ALL of us as reaching a “boiling point” and “near revolt” grossly misrepresents our great school and the incredible teachers and staff who educate our community’s children. We are proud members of the Leopold Elementary School community.
    We have continued to teach at Leopold despite over-crowding. The teachers who were out posted for two years all came back to the Leopold Community. Teachers who have left Leopold have been those who have retired or those who have taken medical or personal leave. Indeed, we have very little turn over in our staff. In fact, many former Leopold staff members come back to Leopold on a regular basis to substitute and/or volunteer. We choose to stay at Leopold because we share the undying commitment to meet the educational needs of an ever changing population of students. We have faced the disappointment of a failed referendum necessitating windowless rooms in the corner of the lunchroom, and classrooms in common spaces of the building. Through all of these challenges, we have made significant increases in required, standardized test scores. Yes, some of the changes have been painful, but we all are committed professionals who have the best interests of our students as our compass. Mary Hyde has been the catalyst for change. Change can be difficult. A few employees of the district do not represent the entire Leopold community.
    We look forward to the upcoming school year in educating your children and continuing to provide a quality education for all children.
    Jody Behnke
    Lelia Belakhdar
    Nichole Berg
    Pam Brady
    Karen Cook
    Sara Cutler
    Troy Dassler
    Abigail Felber
    Janice Gratch
    Kelly Hamilton
    Stephanie Hill
    Laura Huber
    Claudia Iverson
    Peg Keeler
    Kristine Lamont
    Jeanne Lerum
    Maggie Mendoza
    Carolyn Michaelis
    Mary Ellen Rhoades
    Laurie Roberts
    Susan Roehlk
    Theresa Sanders
    Julie Schroeder
    Jennifer Van Winkle
    Tia Viney
    Lauri Zinck

  17. Should a school with obviously divided staff be expanded? Will the expansion only create added stress and further divide staff? Is a principal with divided support the right person to lead the staff through an expansion?

  18. I find Mr. Blume’s response to the letter signed by 22 Leopold staffers to be quite curious. A show of unity by a large number of staff–who, during the summer months would have had to work to connect with one another–is hardly evidence of a “divided” staff. The letter itself addresses the exaggerations in the The original “article”, which appears to be the perspective of a few teachers and one apparantly biased reporter (how hard could it have been to find teachers who disagreed with the anonymous sources in the article when so many were willing to speak out–on the record–in response). I challenge anyone to walk into any school that is in the process of change and find a staff that has undivided opinions about its direction or its leadership. In fact, I challenge anyone to walk into any workplace of 15 or more employees, and find a staff that is undivided in its opinions. We educators tend to be passionate about what we do and to have strong opinions about how we should do it. We parents have strong opinions as well, and they are also characterized by passionate differences. The competing research in the field of education speaks to the fact that this is not a condition unique to either Leopold or to the MMSD as a whole. When individuals grab on to dissent as an excuse not to support a school, there is usually another agenda at work. Clearly, a positive letter touting many of Leopold’s positive is no reason not to suppor the school.

  19. Teacher L,
    I assumed that the 22 signers are a different group than the 91 teachers and stff who signed the first letter. Consequently, I assumed that the school has a division among staff.

  20. Ed, I do think you are reading into who signed the letter to Mary Hyde. Some of the teachers who wrote a letter to the Fitchburg Star, probably did also sign a letter asking for Mary Hyde to reconsider the job share position. But I also note that teachers who signed the letter to the Fitchburg Star include some no longer at Leopold, and the majority (if not all) the reading teachers.
    Mary Hyde has always been a strong supporter of the reading teachers, and why wouldn’t she, her background is a reading specialist herself. I just don’t feel she understands the stresses in a classroom of 25 4th and 5th graders, or even 15 students, where you have kids who can’t read with kids who are 5-8 grades above. Where you have 20 other students, and one student who has been mainstreamed into the classroom who bites, hits, or has major behavioral problems and try to keep the other 20 students on task. It is much easier when you have 1-5 students who are on the same reading level, for 30 minutes (or what ever the time is that they now have them).
    There is a division among the staff thanks to Mary Hyde. Many teachers who didn’t sign the Fitchburg letter, live near other teachers who did. But it is also summer, so maybe there would be a few more teachers who would have signed this letter if they would have known about it.
    My kids have been out of Leopold for a few years now, and I am amazed how many of the teachers who did sign the Fitchburg letter are where not there 3 years ago, and if they were, they were hired into the MMSD district under Mary Hyde. To me, this is a much stronger showing to me that there is a split among the staff.
    I do feel that the Madison voters need to look at this situation, with a school already so large, do we want a larger division, or keep smaller schools where there is a much more family atmosphere.
    My only concern is that Mary Hyde will play a heavy hand on those who didn’t sign this letter.
    The other thing I find interesting is that the letter mentions that Mary Hyde received Distinguished District Award. Years ago, these awards required lots of letters from those who were recognized. Now, they only need one or two, which I have heard where written by teachers she hired into the district, not the teachers who have been in the district for a long time, nor at Leopold for any time.
    As a parent, the author of this article in the Fitchburg, he probably observed the split in the school, as I did when Mary came to Leopold and for the next 3 years. I can’t blame teachers not wanting to have their names listed in the paper, because Mary does hold grudges, and they need to keep their jobs also.

  21. Thanks for clarifying your reasoning. My understanding from talking with at least one of the teachers is that that is not the case. As someone who signed, she was being supportive of a fellow teacher around a single decision, but stated that she and many of her colleagues (she of course can’t speak for all) not sign as a general critique of their leadership or the direction of the school (of which she is personally supportive). I am sure that some signers are also among those who are critical in general, but it would be a mistake to assume that it is the 91 vs. the 26. Interestingly, a letter in the Star today critiqued the group letter because it was written by a wide variety of staff, not just classroom teachers. As someone who has watched change happen in a few schools, I had two thoughts:
    1) Obviously a majority of the staff on either side are not involving themselves in this. Perhaps because it is summer, perhaps because they feel the whole thing has been overblown, perhaps because they don’t want to take part in something that gives an impression of divisiveness.
    2) The changes that have been taking place in education are perhaps most jarring to classroom teachers. There was a time when, as a classroom teacher you could just “shut your door” and teach the way you wanted, and “specialists” (ELL, Special Education, etc..) had to adjust to each teacher’s way of doing things. The move to collaborative instruction (in which resources are maximized by fully engaging specialists in instruction for all students) requires an improved status for specialists and power sharing/decision sharing for general educators. For some, that is a difficult and bitter change (although I would argue that it is also a necessary and positive one).

  22. I have followed this article in much interest. I used to teach at Leopold but took a medical leave when Donna was principal. I was not one of her “pets” and she did make life very difficult for me at Leopold. My team members and the children were the only thing that helped me through the three years I spent under Donna.
    I had the pleasure to met and talk with Mary Hyde. She was one of the few administrators I felt really listened to what I had to say.
    I have also kept in close contact with a fellow teacher from Leopold and she has informed me that Mary is a good principal and has enjoyed working with her. This teacher has been at Leopold for many, many years.
    Let us not focus on what some feel is going wrong. Let us focus on the strengths of the school and the Leopold community. Lets try to work together for the children under our care when we are teaching. This is a choice each teacher can make individually.
    I am proud to know that teachers finally spoke up about Mary Hyde being a good person to work for and under. She is a wonderful person from what I have seen.
    The district does have to pay two health plans, sick days, etc. for a job share if both teachers are working 50%. It is in the collective bargaining agreement.
    I have had the priveledge of job-sharing twice in my employment with MMSD and it is a priveledge and not something to be taken for granted. I understood it would be for a short time each of the two times (no more than a year). I also understood the strains this placed on the budget and that it could not be a long term situation. The teachers who have had job shares should be glad they were allowed to do it and focus on that not on it ending now. You see it is all how one looks at a situation.
    I wish the staff at Leopold the best and I hope, as I know you can, all pull together and not let this issue come between you all. You are good people and I know most of you personally. Let the peace and loving in your hearts come forward again and enjoy the children you are working with. You are a great bunch of people!

  23. Ms. DeMoe,
    When you where at Leopold I remember that Donna had to get down on you for talking about your separation and child custody with your 1st grade classroom. This was very disturbing for the children, and Donna needed to get involved. You had brought up some very inapproppriate things with the kids. If anything, Donna was slow at getting involved in situations that she should have been involved in and Mary Hyde was the person to “let” you go from the district.
    I also know that job sharing benefits also changed since you worked at Leopold.

  24. Edukation4U,
    You are sadly mistaken about what happened in my first grade classroom. I never spoke with my classroom about any issues regarding child custody or my divorce. I did tell parents, who asked, that I was getting a divorce. I am not ashamed of my life and I am a really good teacher as ALL my evaluations show, even the ones Donna wrote. This is also has nothing to do with the situations I was talking about.
    Mary Hyde never “let” me go from the district. I have not been “let” go by the district at all. It was my choice to take a medical leave while Donna was principal. Please get your facts straight before you post things about my personal life as you don’t have them correct.
    My letter was meant to show that Mary Hyde is a wonderful person as well as the staff at Leopold. That when push comes to shove it is the children we should be concerned about. Teaching should not have to be about all the politics but rather teaching children to succeed and be comfortable with who they are. I have seen great things from the staff at Leopold and I hope they don’t let this issue get in the way of what their missions as teachers should be — the children. Principles should always come before personalities.
    Let us keep the focus on the issue here. As has been witnessed, in this very posting spot, that not ALL teachers at Leopold feel that Mary Hyde is a bad principal. It is stated that the staff is divided because of her and that simply is not true.
    Again I will write, let us not focus on what may be “wrong” at Leopold but build on the strengths of the school and community. Let us try to work for and with the children under our care and pull together as I know the Leopold staff can.
    I wish all the teachers at Leopold a great school year and I hope you all follow your hearts and be the great teachers I know you are!

  25. As a person who first hand heard what I heard, you have your opinion on what happened, I have mine.
    As you have said, you have never worked with Mary, and I will agree, if a teacher is willing to be a puppet and do what she/he is told to do (and for those who haven’t worked for anyone else, may not feel comfortable questioning anything Mary says so I am not critizing them) then Mary will not get in your face. If you question anything, come up with why something should be tried differently, Mary will get in your face. Her door is not open to just any teacher, she doesn’t answer emails or phone calls from concerned parents. As an adult who was very involved with the school for 3 years under Mary’s leadership, I have seen the gambit.

  26. I am pretty new to this forum and there are some good discussions happening here, but I have to say that I am really disturbed by the personal attacks that have occurred now on two different strands I have been following within the same week. Is that the norm here???
    Regarding Donna vs. Mary…this is hardly relevant. Donna and Mary are not having a competition. And, I have to add, as someone who has worked for both (although for each at other schools), I can certainly see why a person who was happy under one might not be happy under the other–these are very, very different people with very, very different styles. I’ve already voiced how much I appreciated the opportunity to work with Mary (in my initial post on this strand), so I’m going to try not to repeat myself to any great extent. However…..
    I cannot let the following comment pass without response:
    “if a teacher is willing to be a puppet and do what she/he is told to do (and for those who haven’t worked for anyone else, may not feel comfortable questioning anything Mary says so I am not critizing them) then Mary will not get in your face. If you question anything, come up with why something should be tried differently, Mary will get in your face”
    I have been called many things, but you would be hard pressed to find any teacher or principal I have ever worked with that would describe me as a “puppet” or “not comfortable questioning”. In fact, most of them would probably burst out laughing at the very idea. I am the teacher who hears a new idea, and while everyone else is getting excited, I’m challenging it to within an inch of its life. This was as true during my tenure with Mary as it is now, and I never once felt that I couldn’t speak my mind or ask my questions. It did mean that when and if she decided to go a different way (despite my objections/questions) I needed to gracefully accept that decision as within her rights and move on. She gave me the respect of allowing me to speak from my perspective and offer my ideas, I gave her the respect of not sabotaging what I didn’t enthusiastically embrace. That’s as it should be.

  27. Herein lies the problem of getting too deep into the machinations of any specific school community. “Edukation4u” ‘s personal attack on a staff member is way out of line in my eyes, as is the constant “Mary Hyde this Donna this” stuff. I’d be terrified and embarrassed if PERSONNEL issues at my kids’ schools were suddenly fodder in the media and (even worse) here at SIS! My advice is keep your war stories in your own closet and learn to spell correctly.

  28. Thank you TeacherL and David for you comments. I just want to make clear that I did not and never will call anyone a “puppet” and I do not agree that anyone is. This is simply stated for clarification.

  29. I cannot believe that someone has tried to trash a teacher who has done so much for students. It really shows the lack of respect the author of the response has for people in general even though she claims to have grave concern for teachers.
    Remember that three fingers are pointing right back at you “edukation4u” when you point a finger at someone. Shame on you! You have thoroughly discredited yourself yourself on this topic now.

  30. Being rather direct in what I have to say, it might be hard to imagine, but I was taken back by reading the details of personal problems. I too hope to never again read any similar details on the blog.
    However, being the rather direct guy that I am, I must say that personnel problems can seriously disrupt classrooms, schools, and districts. We cannot sweep personnel issues under the rug, but we don’t need any gory details either.

  31. David, interesting comment for one who is an advocate for those with disabilities.
    Thanks for the humor.

  32. Judy,
    Now that we know your name, we know there is no way you heard that informations first hand about Jennifer. First hand means you directly heard it happening. Your child was never in her classroom. What you heard is condsidered “hearsay”. Do you even know that she is a huge advocate for people with disabilities also. We find nothing disingenuous about David’s response.
    Your children are not even in the district anymore as you, yourself, stated so why be so concerned about what is happening with MMSD. For them to have written you a letter asking why you left is ridiculous as lots of parents move in and out of all school districts every year. If you were so concerned you should have written to them to let them know.
    Also, how is being so negative and judgemental helping? Take a good look in the mirror and ask if you like what you see. We would think you have better things to do with your time than to keep trying to make a rift among the teachers at Leopold.
    If you truly have trouble spelling look the words up in a dictionary. You misspelled a word approximately seven (7) times in a previous post on another topic here.
    Also, it is the school board that makes a decision to terminate a teacher not a principal’s. Jennifer has not been terminated at all by MMSD. She took a medical leave and is still on that leave due to medical issues. What you did was just cruel by bringing her personal life into this forum. How would you like your personal life spread across the pages in here? You are not perfect as we can vouge first hand from what we have seen.

  33. Here’s the deal Judy. I advocate for students with disabilities because I have a child with a serious disability. If you felt that I was somehow “making fun” of your mis-spellings, and you have some type of disability in that regard, then I was not aware of that and I’m profoundly sorry that you took my criticism in that manner. However, you can’t make post after post about how your kids are TAG and left the MMSD because they weren’t properly serviced, and then turn around and air personal laundry and expect any of us to take you seriously.
    I have, on occassion, written at length on SIS about my son Lowell’s battles with autism and how some of the wonderful human beings employed by MMSD have helped he and our family be successful academically and socially. I’ve done so because I know and respect almost everyone here, even if we have some major differences of opinion and perception on some important issues.
    I just think you have to have some boundaries, and personal war stories with staff’s personal details is way out of bounds….hence my rebuking you on that. I’ll repeat it again: I have a child served by Special Ed and I have TWO children served by TAG. It sucks when folks play one against the other- I know, as I am stuck in the middle:(

  34. David,
    The pitting of TAG against special education is one of the most frustrating thing that happens in education discussions. It seems to be part of the armed camp mentality that keeps us from being creative on a large scale. I’m happy to say that on a small scale, we work without regard to role. That means that special education, regular education and TAG students all work with every member of our team. In some ways, we are still a “work in progress”, but we are seeing great gains across the spectrum of student ability. Just want you to know that it isn’t adversarial everywhere.

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