On Tuesday, February 5, 2019 I began my first day of employment as a 2nd Grade Teacher at the Southwest Campus of Varnett Public School. I submitted a statement of resignation on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. Within the 28 hours that I worked at Varnett Public School, I witnessed a second-grade teacher firmly push a meter stick into the back of a sleeping 2nd grade female student to wake her. I observed a female specialist teacher walk by a male 2nd grade student and pull his ear and tell him to behave. The only reason that I will not list these teachers by name is that I do not know the name of the students who were victims of this cruelty. In addition, I witnessed countless teachers jerk children around, and a female ancillary teacher charge at a table of children while yelling for them to shut up. Teachers constantly belittled children and mocked their emotions. I would find it hard to pinpoint many staff members who did not constantly yell at children throughout the day. Even the Director of the Southwest Campus, Jesse Arp harshly yells and threatens students to command their attention.
None of these practices are appropriate in a school setting, especially not one that serves young children. While the population is somewhat challenging, the children of Varnett Public School still deserve compassion, respect and to be treated with dignity. While I was eager to work as a 2nd Grade Reading Teacher, I was not interested in being a part of an institution that contributes to the problems faced in black and brown communities. As a person who believes that children should receive the same respect extended to an adult, I find the culture of Varnett Public Schools repugnant. What I witnessed, must surely be the result of systemic issues within the organization, as it is not congruent with what I know to be best practices in education. Not once did I hear a teacher praise a child or say something to build up the self-worth. Instead children were openly critiqued in hearing distance and discussed by education professionals who should understand the importance of building up and not tearing down
I find it problematic that elementary age children do not have recess, at least once a day. The students don’t even engage in a proper Physical Education class. PE is held in the classroom due to problems with the outdoor covered area, and the playground. Children who arrive at approximately 7:30PM, and remain until approximately 4:00PM, are expected to remain quiet for most of the day and admonished for normal childhood behavior. Children should have the opportunity to share, discover and learn with their classmates, NOT spend the day in forced silence.
In closing, I would like to suggest that your administration focus more on whole learning and less on mandated test prep. As of 2018 the Southwest Campus of Varnett Public School ranked #834 out of 902 elementary schools in the greater Houston area by Children at Risk. How do you expect your children to bloom and grow when the garden in which they are nurtured is filled with briers, pests and rocky soil?
Pia Mattix Davis
LIfe is what I make of it!
Thanks for reading!