Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Thanksgiving Surprise

Second-year Boston-area teacher Emily Gorovitz didn't know that she had a problem until she was fired from her teaching post during Thanksgiving break. Supposedly, the firing was due to her unconventional instructional methods. Parents are angry about the popular teacher's dismissal, and aren't going to take Gorovitz's firing laying down:
Outraged parents of Melrose fifth-grade students pulled their kids out of school for a day to protest the firing of a popular teacher after the principal questioned her techniques — including having kids pen their own obituaries as a writing exercise.

The angry Lincoln Elementary School parents staged a teach-in at a musty Knights of Columbus hall yesterday to give a lesson in standing up for what you believe in.

“I think the lesson is if you feel there’s a wrong you should do whatever you need to try and right it,” said father Jeff Carbone. “If you feel cheated you should stand your ground.”

Carbone, an insurance broker, and other parents said the administration has stayed mum while the class descended into chaos after rookie teacher Emily Gorovitz was terminated during the week of Thanksgiving.

“She was nice,” 11-year-old Adam Elmore said of his former teacher.

Principal Fay Lee said she couldn’t say more because personnel issues are confidential, but said the teacher’s popularity doesn’t mean she’s a good teacher.

“You can hire a very nice person, a lovely person. I may be a very nice person but I may not be doing my job,” she said.

A permanent replacement will start tomorrow. And a source familiar with Lee’s decision said the principal questioned several of Gorovitz’s decisions, including one to have children write their own obituary.

But Gorovitz’s father and attorney, Sidney Gorovitz, said the obituary exercise was a harmless Halloween task akin to drawing up fake tombstones.

“She asked the children, ‘If you were going to have an opportunity to write something nice about yourself what would you say?’ ” Sidney Gorovitz said. “It was meant to be humorous.”

Emily Gorovitz taught for the first time last year at a charter school and turned down a contract there to come to Melrose this fall, her father said.

She was shocked to get her termination notice about two weeks ago.

“It was the first indication that she had that anything she had been doing in that classroom had been deemed unsatisfactory or unacceptable or inconsistent with good educational practice, and she was absolutely devastated,” he said.

The unofficial teach-in ends today, but mom Anne Elmore said, “I’m keeping my son home until there’s a definitive plan in place.”
The parents can just about make book that the teacher will not be returning to her classroom. My guess is that the district superintendent has already authorized Gorovitz's dismissal, and for a school board to overturn an administrative recommendation such as this is extremely rare.

I would love to know the district's side of the story, but the district's spokeswoman correctly points-out that personnel matters are confidential; therefore she cannot comment.
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