It was the beginning of my senior year when I realized that I wasted the past few years in several classes that were taking me nowhere. Starting out as a freshman I had so much hope but didn't know what to expect. However, I never imagined it would end the way it did. As an impressionable, bright-eyed, optimistic 14-year-old, I trusted this teacher, who I had known for 10 years. She filled my head with ideas and promises of what the journalism program at my high school would be for me.
I was young, not stupid. I soon realized that she was a lot of talk and things weren't going to be easy.
Reliving the years in high school leading up to my senior year, a lot went on in that journalism program that was not right. Even though I won state and national awards and was promoted to a course for students older than me, I was targeted by insecure disgruntled upperclassmen, mistreated by more than one editor, and never really taken seriously. I was promised a position that I later lost to someone who stole my notebook full of ideas and presented them as his own. I was yelled at by an upperclassman for leading a lesson that I was instructed to lead and embarrassed in front of the class. I was stabbed in the back by a teacher who claimed to have my back, but like I said I was young, not stupid.
I soon realized the promises and apologizes from the teacher were meaningless. She was quickly losing control of the class and going down a slippery slope that would prove to be her downfall.
Senior year was upon me, I dropped journalism, a class that I had devoted three years to, and headed into my third year of Yearbook taught by the same teacher. I accepted and got comfortable being a photo editor for the yearbook. I knew I had more potential than that, but things were crumbling around us. A program that was once top-notch and cohesive was imploding. Slowly over the years, this once devoted teacher changed. She had always been student-focused, but now she had spread herself too thinly. She was too busy with her involvement in state level and national level organizations. It got to the point where she couldn't control her class. What was worse was she gossiped just as much as the students. It was sad. She told me, "I do things to win awards. Awards are the only things that matter."
This teacher who was once a student advocate had lost her focus, and she continued to spiral out of controlled continued.
Mayhem occurred daily in her classroom. She was out of the room most of the time, and students came and went as they pleased. Parent and student complaints were piling up, and she needed a scapegoat. She tried targeting my friend and me, and when that failed, she apologized and offered to buy us lunch. My friend and I both dropped the class. We had enough. In the two short months after school started, so many students dropped her classes that the principal stopped letting people drop which did not go over well with parents.
If you ask any of my teachers, they will tell you that I was a great student, a quiet young lady who would participate but not disrupt the class. I am the daughter of a teacher. One who taught at the same high school I attended, who was my English teacher my freshman year, who was close friends with the journalism and yearbook teacher. We were all shocked at this teacher's rapid decline.
The following year, after I graduated, she was gone.
There is a great deal of speculation as to why she left. Was she asked to leave by the administration? Did she choose to leave because things had gotten so bad? Did she receive a better offer? We won't know for sure, because they don't share that information with the public. My guess is it was a combination of the three. This teacher who was once a champion of students and an impeccable role model had lost her way. She became the antithesis of what she had set out to become. Along the way, she damaged a lot of students, including me. She made me less trusting and far more careful than someone as young as me should be.
I often wonder if she regrets the mistakes she's made, or if she blames everyone else for what happened. I am guessing it is the latter, and that is just a crying shame, but I won't be shedding any tears.