18 July 2006

"Al ha devash v'al ha oketz..."

In the last couple weeks, I have not been blogging much because I have been job hunting. I have not lost my current position, simply doing a few interviews to check how marketable are my skills. The position in question was as a teacher in an afternoon school; one of the new directors being a former colleague from my training program.

For the most part I felt that the interview went well until the topic turned to references. While there are several people who are willing to vouch for my character, teaching ability, connection with students, they specifically want to speak to the directors at the last two schools (my current one and one that I left five years ago, due to personal reasons). I do not want the director of my current school to know that I did this interview because she has been known to a) bad mouth the teacher to make him/her seem less marketable (especially if she wants to keep the teacher) and/or b) suddenly make the teacher's position at the school unavailable.

The other school was at "Congregation Sinat Hinam". I left, officially, due to many personal demands (expecting cool yiddishe maidel, my father's illness, finishing college, etc.). Unofficially, I was having some major issues with the person who had became the Hebrew coordinator "Oketz" in my second year, and is now the director. Suffice to say, Oketz is one of these people who likes to beat you over the head with her ideas about how to teach in a class. She is not happy to have teachers work through their own individual style.

Our last "real" conversation was 5 years ago when we met for my end-of-the-year review. I initially postponed the meeting when my father, a'h, had called me to take him (at the last minute) to chemotherapy. I left Oketz a message, explaining the reason and said that I can reschedule for later in the week. Later that afternoon, I go to get some coffee before going to work and she calls me over to "sit and talk" for a "minute". It turned into 45 minutes where she psycho-analyzed me (attributing my inability to work with some students to a dysfunctional childhood and my "revenge" on "the cool kids" who wouldn't let me "hang" with them), considered my participation in the community-funded training program a "waste of resources", and my "over-compensation" as "desparation" on their part, not "quality" on mine. Through all this, she also mentions by name a teacher she was not allowing back. However, I can come back as long as I play by her "rules". I was to take the teaching assignment she was to give me, meet with her whenever she requested a meeting, and give her a month's worth of lesson plans in advance. I told her that I would need sometime to think about it. The next day, I learned I was pregnant and used that as the excuse for not accepting her "generous" offer.

I had put all this into the file of the past until this interview last week and new information had also come to light about how Oketz had spread lashon ha-ra and motzi shem ra about me to several "heavy-hitters" in the education community. I had not discovered it sooner because once I divorced myself from Sinat Hinam and finished my degree work, I retired to semi-obscurity. I went over to our bureau for yearly continuing ed classes, but stayed in complete ignorance of the venom that this person tried to shoot through my reputation.

The problem is, I can't for the world of me, figure out why she had gone to such lengths to ruin my good name. Even with what she did, I never had anything personal against Oketz. She was just a person who managed to rise through the ranks quickly (perhaps another blog topic). Later, I learned how Oketz managed to get one of her daughter's teachers fired because this teacher showed concern when the girl was not doing well in class. It had been revealed that Oketz and her husband were having marital difficulties and the teacher was being sympathetic. The story Oketz told the school was that SHE was the victim of the teacher's lashon ha-ra about her being told to the entire community.

As I said, though, I never challenged her, even when her ideas ran against my teaching philosophy and she expressed desire to squelch our uniqueness only to make clones of her. Well, I'll hear back from the interviewers tomorrow. I'll keep you posted...

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