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......”