I haven’t written anything expressing my feelings on losing my job at the end of this last school year. It’s not that I was ashamed of it, I just couldn’t think of exactly what I wanted to say or how to express what I was feeling. It has taken me awhile to process through all of the emotions I’ve been feeling, and to reach a place where I’m finally ready to let it all go.
When I told people I’d been fired, but that I couldn’t be happier, they were always taken aback. I think it must be difficult to respond appropriately to someone when they have indeed been canned, but are excited about it. Most often the response was a wary “I’m sorry” with a definite questioning inflection on the end of the statement. As if they weren’t sure to say they were sorry or congratulate me.
I’m sure some people may have thought I was putting up a front. I was even accused of being bitter after I made some negative, but true, statements about my former place of employment. The reality is this: I’m extremely thankful. I’m living the life I’d hoped for for so long, and I know it’s all possible because I was given the boot.
And so, I thought the best way to show this was to write a letter to my former bosses, and show them just how much I appreciate what they did for me. So, without further ado…
Dear administrators of the Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School,
I am writing today to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the gift you’ve given me. What gift you may ask? The gift of my freedom. The gift of living my dream. Because honestly, if it wasn’t for you, it never would have happened. I owe my complete happiness at this time to you, and for that I can never say thank you enough.
You see, from 2011-2015, I gave so much of myself to our school. Even though I had two young children at home–one of whom was only 4 months old when I began there, and one whom was very ill that school year and in need of a lot of attention–I still worked over 50 hours a week. I came in early, and left very late, many times never seeing daylight outside, and most days leaving after the majority of other teachers and you administrators yourselves. And I did this because I believed in my job. I believed I was reaching children, I was making a difference. And I believed that my efforts were appreciated. I believed in you guys and in your wanting the best school for everyone.
These years were not always easy, as you know. There were many challenges, both personally and professionally. I fell into depression, though I didn’t know it at the time. I struggled to keep up with the never-ending changes you implemented with no warning, discussion or clear communication. But I continued to do my best, and worked tirelessly toward building our school. Even after mounting pressures, responsibilities, and unrealistic expectations and demands, I persisted. I kept hoping that one day everything would even out, that there would be an end to what had become a very unreasonable position. I spoke what I believed, and I expected respect in return. Maybe not always agreement or understanding, but respect. And at first I got this. But even this over time waned.
So by the end of my time on your team of teachers, things had gotten harried. I no longer felt respected or appreciated, and I no longer respected you. I may not have always liked you, your choices, your decisions, but I’d always respected you. But by the time my last school year began, even that had disappeared.
The personal attacks you wielded, the power trips you went on, the blame you pointed at everyone but yourselves, the numerous times you condescended to professional adults and shamelessly put children’s developmental needs after everything else caused this shift in my perspective. It became disgustingly apparent that your lack of experience and ability to do your jobs well led to your doing all you could to make others look worse. It was pathetic, cruel, and honestly, just sad.
But what was saddest of all was my lingering hope that things would get better, that I could do something to make them better. That it wouldn’t always be like that. I refused to believe that reason would be ignored forever, that decisions that were not in the best interest of children or that were downright abusive toward the staff would continue. And in this I was wrong. And this is where I lost.
But then in you came to rescue me. With one single decision, you spared me of any further misery. You saved me.
I believe with all of my heart that you made the decision to fire me because you hoped it hurt me. I know that it had become personal by that point. That you were blind to my ability as a teacher because of how much you detested my philosophy, my personality, my refusal to bend but not break. I know you expected me to cry, to plead, to question why you chose to let me go. I know you were looking forward to being on top again, in the power seat, but I would not give that to you.
When just days after the decision was handed out, you tried to slander me, tried to bully me and insult me while lying and contradicting yourselves the whole time, I wouldn’t let you get to me. Because at that point, I knew for sure that all of my hoping of things getting better, of you finally seeing the errors of your ways was dead. I had no need to keep that useless hope alive, and you saw very quickly that our relationship had changed.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad at all. I was, and am still a little bit. But my appreciation extended further than my sadness. Because, you see, even though I can no longer see students with whom I built strong relationships, they still email me. Even though I don’t every day get to see colleagues whom I considered friends, and laugh at their antics, and help them stay sane, I know now that those friendships weren’t necessarily real anyway. In figuring that out, I learned who was true and who wasn’t, and I learned I’ve no need for false friends.
But most of all, I learned what I’m made of. And what I’m made of is so much more than you ever gave me credit for, and it’s so much more than your tried to turn me into. I learned that compromising your value system is never a compromise to make. I learned that honesty, even when it’s something that’s hard to hear, is always the best way. I learned that I can be happy. That I needn’t be satisfied with anything less. And perhaps this was the best lesson of all.
I thank you for firing me because you put me out of my misery. If it wasn’t for your decision, I would have kept plugging along, hoping and thinking I could change things, that it would get better over time, and that there weren’t any alternatives.
But now I’m living that alternative, and it’s beyond anything I’d ever imagined. Almost beyond words.
Thank you, admins, for this amazing gift you gave me. The gift to be present. To take care of my children, my family, with more thought and caring. To take care of myself for once. To stop pushing aside what I think and feel, and to stop feeling ashamed of having real emotions.
But thank you, most of all, for giving me this time to write. I am pursuing my dream. After spending most of my life wishing I had the time and courage to write a book, I finally am. How many people live their lives never having pursued or fulfilled a dream of theirs? Cross me off that list because I am living the life, living my dream, and it’s all because of you.
I mean this thank you with no sarcasm, with no condescension, and with less and less anger in my heart. I swear, you wouldn’t recognize me. Instead of sneering, I’m smiling. Instead of crying, I’m laughing. And instead of complaining, I’m appreciating. It’s been a marvelous transformation, and I feel lucky that it wasn’t too late. You saved my life by firing me, quite the opposite from your intentions, I bet.
I leave you with these last words. Regardless of my feelings toward you as my former employers, I know each of you is a person, a person with a family, a person who once had good intentions toward education. I hope more than anything that you can find yourselves back to the place in your heart that makes you as happy as I am now, the place that shows you doing the right thing is always the way. The place where tearing down others no longer makes you feel stronger. Because if everyone could feel as lucky as I do, no one would need to be miserable anymore.
Good luck in your futures.