A little over a year ago, Saint Croix Falls teachers were harshly criticized for doing (what was for them) a very risky thing. The superintendent’s phone rang a lot. Relationships were strained. Words like: Selfish, Lazy and Fire flew like sparks from a blaze of anger. I know. I was one of those teachers.
Wisely, in an attempt to allow the community to air it out, the school board held a public meeting for public comments. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. 50 of my colleagues stood behind me as I read a letter we hoped would explain how our behavior aligned with our desire for: Truth, Great Schools, Smart Kids, Strong Communities. After me, another teacher spoke. Then a parent spoke in support of the teachers, then another. Next, a community member voiced his support.
That was the night it became clear: SCF supports its teachers. SCF values truth and courage. We (all of us) understand that we are in this together.
Because Wisconsin law now prevents negotiation, many districts are using this as an opportunity to establish outdated 20th century policies requiring employees to sit down, shut-up, obey orders, and not ask questions. The SCF school board also had this opportunity.
They flatly rejected it.
In doing so, the board sent a clear message: We expect excellence and will support professionals that work together to creatively strive for it. Many think that’s bucking a trend. I would say, we realize the truth: We are all in this together.
Turns out cooperation works. Last week, of all the high schools in Wisconsin–all 2,300 of them—U.S. News and World Report ranked St. Croix Falls 9th.
Last week also happened to be Teacher Appreciation Week—a great week to be a teacher—but in SCF they really know how to show appreciation. Now, it’s my turn to give thanks.
To the SCF community, the members of the school board and everyone who has stuck with us: Thank you. Thank you for expecting excellence, for listening to your teachers, for supporting public education. Thank you for understanding the challenges before us as well as what it will take to conquer them–together.