This year, Tok School is losing a plethora of staff. The list includes, but is not limited to, Ms. Braatz, Mr. Schoeneberg, Mrs. Schoeneberg, Ms. Molly, and our principal, Mr. Larrabee.
The reasoning behind this varies. Mr. and Mrs. Schoeneberg left because they have a baby on the way and wish to raise him closer to family. Mr. Larrabee says he is leaving to care for his aging mother and her farm in Minnesota. Ms. Molly is leaving to further her education. Ms. Braatz is leaving to work in the Matsu School District.
Bringing in new staff members makes it difficult for both the students and the incoming staff. They have to find a way to connect with the students, which isn't always easy to do. Student Ruben Constantine says, "It's alright but it's gonna suck so it's bad. It will suck and we won't have the relationships we have built with past teachers."
Student Marrisa Neumann says, "I feel disappointed and scared to see what next year holds. It will be kind of nice to have a fresh start but it will feel awkward to have new teachers to get to know."
Upperclassmen Kailie Champagne says, "I wish that staff would stay longer than a year just so we can have more of a connection and not random people every year. I would have liked to have the same science teacher two years in a row and not just once. You meet these people once and they just disappear."
Tok School's teacher retention rates this year are not very high. A question that many people are wondering is what can be done to fix this problem. Teacher Andrea Braatz says, "While the climate here in Tok led to some of my discontent this year, there were additional factors related to teaching which also contributed. The largest contributor was the negative attitudes, lack of work ethic, and blatant disrespect exhibited by the middle school students. Please understand, there are many middle school students here at Tok School who are a pleasure to work with. Unfortunately, in life, a little bit of negativity can be toxic enough to overshadow the positivity.[...] The second largest contributing factor was a lack of training and support for new staff members."
It seems that the issue of keeping staff seems to come from within the school itself. The students are not being taught to be held to certain standards of respect that should be expected in the classroom. The teachers are also not being implemented into the school smoothly due to a lack of training. This causes discomfort for new incoming teachers who may not know how to handle certain situations.
When asked what she thinks could be done to improve teacher retention, student Holly Beeman said, "Making the school a more tolerable work environment for the teachers and resolving some of the issues within the school board. For example, letting teachers know what classes they will actually be teaching would be helpful because it's unfair to them."
Teacher Andrea Braatz says, "I believe a mentorship program for new staff, improved channels of communication at the school and district level, clearer expectations for staff and students, and stronger leadership would all help with improving staff retention."
Teacher Erica Burnham says that, "I think that we need more support for teachers, particularly when it comes to instructing them. A teaching coach would help to work with new staff around the district, as well as old staff. They would not evaluate the staff, but instead, give feedback and support to help them grow."
So how will Tok School be next year? Will teachers stay, or will more leave once again? The students hope that teachers and staff will stay within our school to build connections and give them the stability that they have not had in a long time.