Teacher resigns to take a stand

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Dear Editor:

This is an information letter to the public.

John Hicks, an excellent teacher, who puts students first and cares about the quality of education, recognized for his commitment to youth and mentorship by two provincial education awards and two community awards, has recently been left with no alternative, but to resign from his position at Queen of Peace Middle School.

The purpose of his resignation is to bring attention and resolution to a long standing issue with in the Labrador School Board. The issue is an unhealthy school climate.

His resignation from a profession he loves and is good at, is an act of an idealist. He will be looking for other work to live on.  It is ironic, that in an education system that promotes inclusion and individual learning styles (two areas that John Hicks is inherently good at, having huge success at including all students and treating them as individuals), that there is no room for teachers who are idealistic.   It is also ironic that while John’s individuality is being stamped out, the most difficult and behaviourally challenged students are placed in his class each year, because it is known that he makes a difference.

John Hicks has inspired and given hope to thousands of students, imparting to them more than just the required outcomes.   Mr. Hicks has not been fired and has not taken stress leave

(although,  he could have, given his treatment), but he has chosen to resign to be able to speak out against negative school climate.  Teachers protect themselves from this by shutting their door, doing their classroom job, and leaving at the end of the day. Negative school climate is not tangible and therefore difficult to address collectively, but it is harmful and destroys spirit.  It takes a special person to speak out against it and that strong person is Mr. Hicks.

Poisonous school climate and the way it manifests itself through spirit sucking tactics been acknowledged by many and confronted by few.  No surprise.   It is human nature, when faced with mean spiritedness, to submit, to survive. John Hicks is surviving by choosing not to submit anymore, and unfortunately surviving means resigning. Now is the time to make the changes necessary to create positive school climate, by permitting individuality and allowing for differences.  It is not rocket science, it is simple human decency, good manners, the golden rule: DO UNTO OTHERS....

There are ways to help situations like this and not injure any of the parties involved. Good parents constantly maintain a healthy climate in their homes, by viewing the whole family as a unit and deflecting conflict through supportive measures. The same can be done in schools.  Classroom teachers do it daily, separating students who do not get along before incidences occur.  In some provinces, school administrators are not allowed to be a school for longer than five years.  I will close with a quote from Don McLean who wrote, “they did not listen, they did not know how, perhaps they’ll listen now......”

Sincerely,    

Kathleen Hicks

Organizations: Dear Editor, Peace Middle School, Labrador School Board

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  • Brian Laing
    November 06, 2012 - 08:20

    There are very few teachers that are able to captivate the minds of the young, very few that are able to inspire our children, John Hicks is without a doubt, one of the very few that has done that for more than 25+ years. I had the incredible experience of being his student during high school, he was a true genius in getting young minds to open up and discuss issues that were well beyond our education level. You may think that that is not brilliant; however, given that the youth of Labrador are often seen and not heard, given that their thoughts and opinions are so very often supressed by many, having a supporter snd mentor like John, one who didn't hold his opinions back and made you stand for what you believed was right, was nothing short of genious, and isn't that what teaching is all about? If there was any teacher that could motivate a student to be heard, to voice their opinion and stand up for their rights and what they believe, John Hicks is that person. I am sure there are a thousand other former students of John that would rally in a heart beat to support him. I am sure any current or past student of John's that is reading the article about his resignation is disgusted that a man who has done so very much for the cimmunity and students, was left with no option but to walk away from what he loves the most, mentoring and coaching youth and paving the way for their success. In my opinion, any teacher that can have that affect on a student, and this is some 20 plus years after, is deserving of my support. Brian laing

    • Albert Webber
      November 07, 2012 - 12:10

      Mr. Hicks was the best of the best in any teaching standards... I have the great admiration and respect for this man. Anyone says otherwise, if a fool...