My Return to Mandarin Middle School

In my previous post I wrote about my decision to volunteer my services at Mandarin Middle School, the closest school to my home here in Jacksonville.  If you haven’t had a chance to read it, it’s located here.

To reprise a little bit, after my first visit to the school I completed the online background check as they requested.  About four or five days later, I received a written copy of that background check, and as you might imagine, there was NOTHING incriminating or damaging to my character.

Two weeks went by without a word from anyone from Mandarin Middle School, so yesterday I went for a second time to volunteer my services.

I had learned in my initial visit that the testing for the FCAT, Florida’s version of the standardized test administered to comply with No Child Left behind, was scheduled for the third week of this month (next week).

It was also mentioned that they could use additional help during the testing periods.

When I entered the main office yesterday, the principal’s secretary was on the telephone.  When she saw me, I could tell that she immediately recognized me.

She hung up the phone and enthusiastically greeted me, and I jokingly said, “So you remember me?”

“Of course I do!”

She then called for the woman who had been absent during my previous visit, with whom I need to speak about volunteering.  This woman emerged from her office and listened to the secretary’s brief explanation about me.

This woman did not introduce herself to me.

Instead she launched into an explanation about how I would have to go to the district’s website and complete a background check before we could proceed.

I told her that I had already completed the background check and that I had brought it with me along with my Florida Teaching Certificate.  I opened my file folder to display both of these documents.

She briefly glanced at these documents and agreed that I was in compliance.

Then, she told me that she would have to get with the school’s PTA president to see how my services could best “be used.”  She asked me to write my contact information on a slip of paper.  Although I had done that on my earlier visit, I did it again this time.

She then informed me that someone would be contacting me, shook my hand, and said, “It was nice meeting you.”

She then retreated to her office and closed the door.

The secretary looked a little embarrassed but expressed her wishes that they would be seeing me next week.  I said I would be looking forward to it, turned around with my file folder, and showed myself out of the office and the school.

Unless they do, in fact, contact me over the course of the next few days, that will be my LAST visit to Mandarin Middle School.

If they don’t want to take advantage of an opportunity to get competent, professional help completely free of charge, then that’s THEIR problem.  Not mine.

I never knew that volunteering to serve our young people without wages would be such a challenge.

I have never claimed to be the best or even nearly the best teacher on this planet.  Although I do have 33 years classroom experience, many of you have more experience than I do.

I do have a masters degree, but I’m sure many of you may also have a doctoral.

The bottom line here is that I was not even offered an opportunity to explain my background, my experiences, or to express my preferences about what I would be doing and when I would be doing it.

I was not even given the common decency of a proper introduction.

Does this woman live in the same county as I do?  Does she know that the PTA was changed many years ago to the PTSA? And besides–what do they have to do with volunteers anyway?

I suppose I could have protested and been more assertive, but is that the best way to get a new professional relationship started?

I had the right idea, but I apparently chose the wrong school.

Coming Tuesday: More about My Volunteer Endeavors