A beginning teacher reflects on being laid off

July 01, 2011

I am now a former educator from Prince George's County. I taught at Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Maryland for the past two years. This is where I also spent my internship during my senior year at University of Maryland. On June 27, 2011, I was informed that I would be let go from Prince George's County Public Schools on June 30 due my seniority and budgetary reductions. I will be replaced with a tenured teacher for the 2011-2012 school year.

I come from a family of teachers, and for as long I can remember, I knew what my calling was, and what I was meant to do with my life.

Finding something you are deeply passionate about, spend a great deal of time bettering yourself at, and committing yourself to fully, is an amazing feeling. Losing all of that through a certified letter is one of the lowest points of my professional and personal life.

I do not begrudge the person who is taking my job, but I am deeply concerned about a system that routinely takes young, dedicated teachers and gives up on them so easily. Over the last three years I have developed deep bonds with the students and faculty at Northwestern, and this loss is more than just the loss of a career, but the loss of a family. I worked tirelessly to not only better the lives of students but hopefully to enhance the community in which I served. This year, I was voted "Most Dedicated Teacher" by the students of Northwestern, an honor that I am deeply appreciative of.

I served as co-chair of the Student Government Association and led an informal, after-school movie club every other week, where I bought students dinner and worked to develop in them a deeper understanding of government, while at the same time trying in some small way to create a community where the children felt wanted and needed.

The termination letter ends with this line: "Your service to PGCPS is sincerely appreciated, and we wish to assure you that this action does not reflect upon your service or conduct." I really wish that this "firing" did reflect on my abilities because then it would have a cause, a reason, a motive. This action has none of these things. I am openly disappointed that now, I will not be able to continue to grow as an educator. The experience has left me jaded to a system that I once cared so much about.

Kevin Burke

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