2011-07-08 / Letters

The Last Of The Mohicans

Dear Editor,

As I step out of my building, with the smell of the sea air and the sea wind hitting my face, I’m saddened that the day has come for my final exit from PS/MS 225. I started here, as a NYC teaching fellow, six years ago, with visions of grandeur and a stomach full of butterflies. I left one career to become a teacher. I knew the road would be challenging but also rewarding. As a teaching fellow, I also knew my acceptance might be met with a little animosity, due to 225’s restructuring. I was the new teacher, taking a position from a qualified teacher that had been excessed.

It was not like that at all for me. I was accepted by many veteran teachers, who met me with a smile and some of whom, have guided me to become the teacher I am today. I felt welcomed but I knew I had to work hard and it would take time for me to become the teacher I wanted to be.

PS/MSD 225 became my second home, a place where teachers helped other teachers grow and a place where friendships were built and sustained by many. We really wanted to make 225 the best school in Rockaway.

Even though our scores did improve, through the blood, sweat and tears of staff, parents and students, 225 was given its closure notice.

The morale of the students and staff died that day. It was a slap in the face to all of the teachers, parents and students that worked so hard to maintain a good environment and to get the school back in good standing. We fought hard but the decision was made and it was final.

Since then, teachers have moved on to other schools, some, like myself, stayed on through the phase out, but we all maintained a connection. A connection that will stay for a long time by many of the staff.

We were all encouraged to move on, and asked why would you stay? Why? We stayed on because we promised our students that they would finish out their time at 225 with qualified, motivated teachers.

They deserved it!

When the new schools came into our home, we accommodated them with warm welcome and consideration. We, on the other hand, were not treated as professional colleagues. NOT by all staff, but enough to pierce our souls.

Aren’t teachers supposed to be on the same “team,“ don’t we all strive for the success of our students? Some of the 225 staff have been there for 20+ years, watching children grow from Pre-K to graduating. Then seeing them enroll their children into Pre-K as well.

Yes, we knew all of the children’s names, yes we worked hard to get 225 scores up, yes Ms. Hall worked her fingers to the bone to get parent involvement in our school, along with making house calls and yes we did care!

We cared so much that when they closed the doors on our school we felt broken.

Those of us that remained for the last year of the phase-out have done nothing but try to keep the 225 spirit alive and had to rebuild our morale as well.

We were going to go down professionally and courageously.

I was told recently by someone held in high regard in the department of education that the restructuring of 225 was not done fairly or properly, and if it was done the way it should have been done, 225 would NOT have been closed. It was refreshing to hear, but it was voiced too late.

So, I close this with my last thought. We, the teachers, did not let PS/MS 225 down, the system did.

Forever a 225 teacher in spirit, one of the last of the Mohicans,

MARY CAPUTO

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