The Reckoning

All experiments end. They have to. That is their nature, that is their fate.

But none of us knew that it would end in this way.

It started one morning when Jami was asked to come into a meeting with her superintendent. At that meeting she was presented with a three page document that itemized all of her administrative infractions. All of them minor, but all of them, he felt, were violations of policies that he had been putting in place.

As a result of these infractions, he would be telling the school board the following night that he would not be extending her contract when it ended the following year.

This decision put Jami in a very difficult position. After consulting her lawyer, she felt that the only way to protect her career was to sign a separation agreement, resigning her position as principal, before the school board met. So she did.

The board accepted her resignation with little discussion. The school and the community, however, were outraged.

The many attempts to engage board members in the transformation that was going on in the Junior High and High Schools had been unsuccessful. The board, which pulled largely from influential families in the community, did not understand what was going on in the building. They had a good school experience when they were young and saw that there was little reason to change.

Jami's license to innovate had been granted to her by the previous superintendent. She trusted Jami's expertise as an educator and while she did not fully understand the full nature of the experiment, she believed that Jami and the teachers would always do right thing by the students.

But then, two years into the experiment, she retired. She encouraged Jami to apply for her position, but the board rejected her, deciding instead to hire someone who knew the rule book and would play by it. And make others play by it.

In public education, the rule book exists. And it is extensive. It is a powerful tool to control the behavior of others.

After two years of working with Jami, the new superintendent decide he had enough. She was not the leader he wanted. And he told her that.

The school and the community, however, had a very different opinion. When her resignation was announced, the students staged a walkout and went over to the administration offices and held a demonstration. The school board meetings became packed as teachers, students, and parents berated the board. They knew who they wanted as their leader and the school they wanted. And it was not one that rolled back the clock.

What was seen could not be unseen.

They had found their truth, their voice, their path. And they were not to be denied.

In the midst of this struggle that was ripping the community apart, I received an email from Debbie. She was still on the school board, the sole voice who understood what Jami was doing. The only one who voted against her resignation.

She simply assured me: "Just don’t forget that Truth always wins."

That next May, when the majority of the school board was up for reelection, the old guard was summarily removed, replaced by ardent supporters of Dayton's new path. For education reimagined.

The community had spoken.

But for Jami, it was time to move on, to take this vision to other school districts.