While I was looking through my “archives” for my Maurice Sendak inspired comics, I ran across these two extended strips I thought I’d share. In brief, they deal with my first year of teaching in Ohio where I worked at a charter school located in Cincinnati.
I moved here without my official, state-issued teaching licensure; although New York has reciprocity with Ohio insofar as how they judge teaching licenses… it’s a misleading term and I had to jump through a litany of hoops to get good with the Buckeye State on whether or not I could teach here. In short, I was licensed in NY, but not in OH.
Lacking the proper papers, most public schools wouldn’t hire me. I was left pursuing any other opportunity I could find. Eventually I landed at the A.B. Miree Fundamental Academy. I share the name with you and will speak frankly about the experience both here and in the comic because the school went out of business a year after I was employed there. If you’re thinking “A school… is a business?” I’m not surprised.
Imagine signing a contract with a company saying you’ll have a job for the year… and then being told the first day of work that the company made a mistake, hired too many workers, and they might just have to rip up your contract and kick you out if they can’t get things settled. Now further imagine your wife is eight months pregnant and you have no other prospects.
If you were a member of a union, they would probably go in and kick some ass for you… but of course, the charter school system in Ohio operates outside of the teachers’ union. I was pretty much at the school’s mercy.
Luckily, a couple of teachers found public school gigs and jumped ship. I say “luckily” because I got to keep my job… but also, those other teachers were very lucky they did not have to endure the year I then endured.
The student body of A.B. Miree (especially in the upper grades) was composed of students who were thrown out of the public schools in the area… many for unruly and violent behavior. The students themselves made this a tough assignment, but it was made all the tougher by the constant inconsistency at the administrative level. Halfway through the year, the owners of the building our school was housed in tried to evict the school; those building owners were also the former operators of the school.
Attendance was a constant problem and although I don’t know this for a fact, I believe the administration of the school constantly fudged the numbers of students we had either enrolled or in attendance so as to take advantage of Ohio taxpayers.
It was an awful year for me professionally. I made almost no money, but Ellen and I figured out a way to live on that pittance. Working at such a bad school made me hungry for a better job; I went on several interviews in the summer after that awful year and found my current position, where I’ve been happily working for the past five years. In that sense, I suppose working at A.B. Miree served its’ purpose.
A.B. Miree closed its’ doors permanently right after my only year working there. I believe they struggled on for a year or two under the name The Cincinnati Academy of Excellence but I can’t find any information as to whether or not that school is still in operation. If it is, I hope it’s doing a better job executing learning than its’ former incarnation ever did during my time there.