Room 322, previously Dr. Faliero’s room, is now occupied by a long-term substitute as the administration struggles to find a replacement mid-year.
By Pierce Hudson
One of our newest teachers, Dr. Faliero (who taught AP Biology and Chemistry), sadly left her position at the end of winter break on Tuesday, January 2nd, and created a hole in the schedules of many that needed to be filled. The school board was quick to respond to this change under pressure to find capable teachers but is still trying its best to manage with a temporary fix.
At first, a substitute replaced her, but as of now the assistant principal, Ms. Jennifer Nebor, and recently retired Chemistry and AP Environmental Science teacher, Dr. Mark Ewoldsen, have temporarily taken over teaching her classes. Ms. Nebor is working with our other AP Biology teacher, Ms. Meleeneh Hairapetian to plan lessons and teach for a few weeks into the semester while Dr. Ewoldsen will be getting the help of our Chemistry team, Dr. Kevin Bice and Mr. Karl Geckle, to teach the rest of the semester. Mr. Cartnal visited each class period on Friday, January 6 to update them and discuss these big changes, addressing questions and making sure students had the resources they needed.
This change had been under consideration by Dr. Faliero weeks prior to her departure and was made due to the outrageous responses to her grading policies by students and parents. As a new teacher from Florida, she brought some methods of teaching and grading foreign to us here at La Canada, but how parents dealt with their children receiving undesirable grades was arguably counterproductive.
Some students even chose to drop her class within the first semester, while others complained to their parents to which they then sent angry emails to Dr. Faliero. It is understandable that parents would want to promote their children’s success and education fully, but what’s not acceptable is the berating teachers at the school have to go through. She responded to criticisms and changed her grading methods to help those struggling, but her actions were not seen for the value they deserved. The pressures of a tightly concentrated community of parents so focused on getting the most for their children and students not appreciating what they have proved too much for one person to handle.
Surprisingly, this situation isn’t new here, as just last year the same thing occurred to the teacher in the position Dr. Faliero ended up replacing. The previous teacher stepped down from being an AP Biology teacher due to student harassment, although his case was centered around problems stemming from COVID. Since he was an immunocompromised compromised person and had to be strict with masks and safety in the classroom he was harassed by students to a degree that is unacceptable. The teacher was undeserving of the conditions imposed upon him by students who only saw his actions as petty rather than protective.
It is also important to mention statistics nationwide compared to our culture here. “In March 2021, 42% of teachers declared they have considered leaving or retiring from their current position during the last year.” In recent years we seem to have comparably higher rates of leaving teachers at La Canada, especially in our science department as a large portion of the new teachers were specifically in that branch of STEM. It is most likely due to our close association with JPL here having parents so heavily invested in STEM learning that might cause such an importance to be correct and successful when it comes to science.
If a small contingent of the community is capable of bullying multiple teachers into quitting, clearly there is some issue with how we respond to problems and what we think we deserve. We should be more respectful and understanding of our teachers as human beings, not people who want to attack us personally. The extent to which certain small groups of people harass teachers is far beyond what’s right, as these figures are only trying to help us learn and grow.
Rather than simply spread hate we should work together to give everybody the best school experience we can. We don’t appreciate our teachers enough for how much they go through. Especially with a teacher shortage going on right now, teachers are taking the time to serve the community where others might not.
Moreover, we should appreciate every staff member for the work they contribute to us in planning our futures and keeping our campus clean. For now, students who previously had Dr. Faliero as their instructor must adjust and be flexible to new changes and will hopefully be more respectful and thankful for the work our staff provides.
Zamarro, Gema, et al. “How the pandemic has changed teachers’ commitment to remaining in the classroom.” Brookings Institution, 8 September 2021, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2021/09/08/how-the-pandemic-has-changed-teachers-commitment-to-remaining-in-the-classroom/.