A Very Important Teacher Demands Mesquite Jr High Campus for GCA #3

Gilbert Classical Academy DEMANDS that Mesquite Jr High campus be vacated and given to the 1% population of more deserving students. We’ve been hearing far too often that GCA has the BEST teachers in the entire district, and they need to have smaller classes, better facilities for arts and sports, and while you’re at it, more sincerity in your groveling before them. After all, GCA is Number One Three in the State of Arizona when you measure how many GCA students take Advanced Placement Tests, which is the criteria for ranking by U.S. News. “Give us MORE!” they roar.

Our posts about the letter to the Governing Board and Superinendent Christina Kishimo continue with the Very Important GCA Teacher’s assessment of why GCA is so important that a school for the 99% should be closed  repurposed and given to GCA … and it better be Mesquite Junior High School, by golly!

Our school was never intended to be a good fit for every student, or even a majority of students. As a school of choice, we are designed to create a defined pathway for students who want the best chance to be successful in a challenging higher educational setting. We offer a program that colleges and scholarship committees recognize and reward. There are no classes that are equivalent so an F cannot be made up and students are dismissed from the Academy.

If a kid flunks a course, they’re out of GCA! That keeps class sizes small, especially after those Interim Superintendents forced us to take more students than we wanted to take. What we do is get rid of the slackers so our class sizes go back to what we wanted in the first place:

Students also can’t choose an easier path in a few subjects, but must stay with the highest level of classes available. They become well-rounded scholars prepared to tackle the 21st century jobs and continue to be lifelong learners. Our 7th and 8th grade honors courses are purposefully designed to scaffold skills and get students ready to grow to their potential.

While as an educator and a parent of a GPS student myself, I want the finest education for all of our students in the district but I also know that not every student learns at the same pace or the same way. Differentiation is a hallmark of quality teaching and can only be achieved within reasonable classroom parameters.

Now the Very Important GCA Teacher says “In closing,” but we all know she’s not ready to STFU yet:

In closing, I want to reiterate my fundamental questions: Why isn’t the District simply giving us a facility that meets our needs at a more reasonable size rather than expanding us to outgrow our model or overstuffing us with students simply to make us conform to the other school classroom ratios? Why isn’t GCA, as it was designed to be, allowed to continue its proven success rather than making significant changes to our educational model now simply in response to a reasonable facility request?

Aha! FINALLY she tells the Superintendent and the Governing Board to do what she says they should do, which is give Mesquite Jr High to GCA, or else she’s taking her marbles and going home:

I don’t feel the district should spend millions of dollars on a new building or on revamping an elementary school. It is my opinion that GCA should be moved to the Mesquite Junior High facility which has all the necessary basic equipment, classroom space, PE space, auditorium and parking for a 7-12 Academy of around 450-500 students with minimal cost. We should not be forced to share this facility with another program as we have earned the right to be a school with adequate facilities.

Mesquite Jr. High students should be combined with the existing underpopulated Gilbert Junior High Campus which could accommodate them starting in 2016-2017. If the Board and Administration make the decision to significantly change how GCA does its work, I find I will be faced with the difficult decision of leaving the school I helped to build.

It may not seem like a big price for GPS to pay; losing one veteran teacher and one boundary exception student; I know I’m replaceable. But to me it would mean the last eight years of intense work, daily ups and downs, the professional growth, giving up lunches and free time mentoring students or working with staff and most of all the repeated success stories I have had the privilege to be a part of counts for very little in the grand scheme if what I’ve helped to craft is so easily disregarded.

Why would I stay at a school or a district that essentially says to my face “Thank you for doing such a wonderful job, going over and above and proving time and again that you really know what you’re doing, but we’re going to make you change the model just because it’s easier (or cheaper, or less politically divisive, or I’ve seen it done a different way, or we want to fix something else and don’t care what we break as a result).

Gilbert Classical Academy works because the many interlocking elements all come together to create something better than any one person or one idea would achieve. If too many of those components are altered, it may not work at all, or if it does it won’t be GCA anymore – and GCA is what parents, faculty and most of all the students choose to be a part of each day.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this issue.

Very Important Teacher
Gilbert Classical Academy
History Department Chair
12th Gr. Honors American Government, 10th Gr. AP World History and 7th Gr. Honors Social Studies
We the People Competition Region 5 Coach (State qualifier 2011-2015)
Academic Decathlon Coach
Socrates Teacher of the Year (2015, 2009)

Hey, all you highly qualified Language Arts teachers: aren’t you glad this lady isn’t teaching English? #SAVEGJHS

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