Ever Worked In A Toxic Work Environment?
No matter where you work, in an office, a warehouse, out in the fields, or somewhere in a foreign country, there are always going to be challenges. Either with the work itself or the environment you work in; ever worked in a toxic work environment?
Maybe you’ve had to work with two-faced co-workers who did more gossiping than do their actual work. Or maybe had a boss who literally didn’t give a hoot about you or your success. Does it sound familiar far yet?
Welp, for “Miss Letty”, it does.
When she first graduated from grad school, she landed herself a teaching position at a title one elementary school. It was her ideal location, walking distance from her home and she would be teaching her specialty— art. What could go wrong, right?
It wasn’t even the first day on the job when she started having issues. But of course, being young and optimistic about her career, she ignored the red flags. However, that wouldn’t last too long, since the major red flag was her boss.
It was then that she made the decision to plot revenge, using her own tactics.
The Worst First Day Ever
It was a week before school started. Yet, no one from the school contacted Miss Letty on any updates on her class schedules or even received word about her keys or badge. So she took the initiative to first email both the office staff and the principal, however when no one replied to her emails, that’s when she started making phone calls. Again, no response. When she couldn’t get ahold of anyone at the school, it left her with only one option—to contact the district office.
Again, she started off with an email, requesting information on when and where to receive her keys and badge. She didn’t get a response, until two days later. And surprisingly, the sender was not from the district office, but from the school’s principal, “Principal Thomas”.
When she opened the email, it first started off, “You should’ve been more patient and not have contacted the main office about your keys and badge.”
Not a good start, however, later that day she was able to finally pick up her keys and badge at the school. She couldn’t wait to see her classroom for the first time, but as soon as she opened her classroom door, that excitement soon disappeared. It wasn’t this bright, open space she imagined her classroom to look like, but rather a dark, dingy classroom, used as a storage room for unused desks, tables, chairs, and cabinets. There had to be well over 100 chairs in this room, and with the first day of school just around the corner, she quickly got to work on clearing out the space. And on top of this, she still didn’t know her class schedule for the year.
So she followed up with Principal Thomas a couple of times via email. It wasn’t until the first day of school that she finally received a reply.
It read, “Miss. Letty,
Stop pestering and bullying me about your schedule.
Thank you, Principal Thomas.”
Not even 10 minutes before the school bell rang when she received another email from Principal Thomas with a document attached, labeled “Class Schedule”.
She had two classes… at the same time. Now the school wasn’t huge, but this meant she would have 46 kids in one classroom, by herself. Moreover, she had seven 45-minute periods a day, every day. And she barely had a lunch break; she got scheduled for lunch duty.
This was nonsense, so as students were piling up in her room, she replied to Principal Thomas, requesting an adjustment to her schedule. This way, she could have more time in between classes to prepare for the next period. She wasn’t asking for much, but what she got in return was this reply.
“Deal with it.
Thank you, Principal Thomas.”
She’d dealt with a lot so far, and she decided she wasn’t going to “deal with it” any longer.
Since the principal was no help, she took it upon herself to take a closer look at the teacher’s contract for the district. Come to find out, the school had a section about classroom size. It stated ‘If a class was over 30 students, then the teacher must have an educational assistant to help with the class.’
She didn’t mention this to Principal Thomas until she knew for a fact she couldn’t handle it. And after two difficult months of struggling, she then requested additional help, mentioning her findings in the contract. Yet, she was still denied.
Principal Thomas claimed, “There’s no money in the budget. You will have to make do without it or quit.”
The easy route would be to quit, but she didn’t do all that schooling just to quit within the first couple months of her first job. Miss Letty was determined to make things work even with what little the school gave her. But even with this driven mindset, things didn’t get better.
She worked 12+ hours, getting to school at six am and leaving at nine pm, every day, even on weekends. She finally cracked within a few weeks, so she went forth with bringing the issue to the attention of the teacher’s union. How double classes were not only unsustainable but also unsafe for the children. Her classroom couldn’t even hold more than 30 students, let alone 46. The union promised they would handle it, but weeks went on and nothing had changed.
Again, her concerns were ignored.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving break, when all Miss Letty cared about at this point was getting two days off. Two days of not stressing over work, just relaxing with friends. It was the best she could do for her sanity and little did she know, possibly save her career.
When at a friend’s Thanksgiving dinner, she bumped into an old acquaintance, “TJ” and his new husband, “Gio”. They caught up with each other, her telling them all about her new teaching job and how it had been going so far.
She said, “My students are amazing and have such creative minds, but it’s frustrating to me I don’t have the time to give to them. With two classes at once, it’s hard to get around to everyone in the class in just 45 minutes.”
Raising his eyebrow, Gio asked, “What school do you work at?
She told him. What harm could it do if she told a couple of friends where she worked? Exactly, none or so she thought. You see, little did she know, her new friend Gio also worked in education and was actually her principal’s supervisor. But she didn’t find that out until later on.
When she returned from break, chaos erupted. The principal stormed into her room, threatening to fire her and yelling, “I will make sure you never work in education again.”
Miss Letty was beyond confused, especially when later that week, her schedule suddenly changed. She would only have one class at a time, instead of having two and seeing them twice a week, versus five times a week. It was a major relief because she knew she would be able to help each student if needed and able to plan enough throughout the day so she could leave work on time. With this change, she knew not only would her kids be happier but also her.
Sad to say, but her happiness didn’t last for long. With this new change, Miss Letty started noticing Principal Thomas snooping around her room more often and abruptly coming in to observe her. It was awkward, and she could obviously see the shift in attitude amongst her students, especially from the more extroverted ones. So one day when Principal Thomas wasn’t there, she asked them what was wrong.
One of them blurted out, “I don’t want you to go!”
Confused, Miss Letty said, “Oh, Henry, I have absolutely no intentions of going anywhere! You are all the best students a teacher could ever ask for!”
Which would cheer them up for a while but then they would come in next week upset again. It all clicked when the day before Christmas break came. Principal Thomas came into the classroom with one of her minions, who also was one of the union representatives, and told Miss Letty she was now on the Teacher Support Plan.
This plan was to evaluate whether or not her contact, with the district, would be up for renewal at the end of the school year.
Before she could ask any questions, both ladies walked away, giggling like a couple of schoolchildren. She felt conflicted about the situation, as she was confused, hurt, angry, and just beyond tired of the constant setbacks. This was her breaking point, and she decided she had enough of the mistreatment, so she decided to formulate a plan of revenge.
“I Always Had A Bad Feeling About Her”
It shouldn’t be too hard to get revenge on Principal Thomas, she was no saint. Aside from her malicious attitude towards Miss Letty, she had a very unethical way in how she handled business. She came to school whenever she felt like it. One time she came in as late as noon, without telling anyone. She also kept renewing a certain after-school care contractor that didn’t cost the school anything, yet it wasn’t free for families.
However, since it was winter break, she wanted anything school-related, even her revenge plan, to be on the back burner. It was working for a while until one night she went out with TJ and Gio. Gio brought up if things were getting better after his conversation with Principal Thomas about the double classes.
She asked, “What do you mean you talked to my principal? How do you know her?”
Gio replied, “Oh, you didn’t know? I’m the supervising administrator for that cohort of schools.”
They could tell how unease she started to get. It was at that moment, she realized why Principal Thomas had some sort of vendetta against her, it was because it seemed like she “ratted” her out to her boss.
TJ asked, “What’s wrong?”
Taking a few deep breaths, she then told them how Principal Thomas threatened to fire her and also put her on the support plan. The more she confessed, the angrier Gio’s face got.
He said, “I always had a bad feeling about her, and always wondered why there were always so many new teachers at that school every year. What else can you tell me about what’s going on?”
She was hesitant to say anymore since the last time she opened her mouth, she got in trouble, however, she knew Gio needed to know what was going on. So she told him everything. She left that conversation relieved to get everything off her chest but couldn’t get rid of the dreading feeling of returning after break. However, no matter how awful she felt, she couldn’t miss seeing her students again.
As she walked to her classroom, a few of her students, some of who had teary eyes, stopped her. Just when she was about to ask what was wrong, they ran up to her and gave her a big hug, saying, “You’re here! You’re here!”
She said, “Of course, I’m here. I wouldn’t leave the best students ever! Now would I?”
One student spoke up, “But Principal Thomas said you were going to leave us because you didn’t want to be here, and we should give you trouble before you left.”
She replied, “Oh, maybe she was talking about how I was leaving to visit family over the break? No need to worry, I’m still here.”
Seeing how that wrenched woman tried to purposely make her kids misbehave in class, so she could have something to write her up for, made her beyond livid. She knew this was the time to orchestrate her revenge. So when class started, she asked her students to make a comic book of what conversations they had with Principal Thomas when she told them Miss Letty was leaving.
Now that was only phase one of her revenge.
With phase one intact, she was onto phase two. She contacted Gio and told him, “Per my contract, I want another admin to accompany my principal’s Teacher Support Observation, and I want it to be you.”
Gio replied, “Absolutely!”
She said, “But let’s not tell my principal just yet.”
When it came time for observations, Principal Thomas came into the classroom without a notebook or pen. With a smug look on her face, she thought she was about to get away with firing Miss Letty. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t know Miss Letty was one step ahead of her little game. Cue Gio walking into the classroom with his laptop and sitting right next to Principal Thomas, not saying a word. She knew exactly why he was there, and this made her stumble.
When she asked for a piece of pen and paper, Miss Letty replied, “I don’t have an extra notepad, but I do have some poster paper you can use. Next time, I hope you’re better prepared. So this way you don’t disrupt my class and take time away from their institutional time.”
Both Miss Letty and Gio smirked. And this was just the beginning of the revenge.
Phase three entailed calling Gio every time Principal Thomas was running late to school. He did random stops if he was in the area, and caught her being late twice per week for a solid month. Eventually, he had HR involved to see it for themselves, and just like he said, Principal Thomas was late. Not a good look for a school principal.
On to phase four, where Miss Letty had to get the parents on board, which wasn’t too difficult to convince. Especially after she informed them that since the district sends the school money for the after-school care program, it was meant to be free for students. She even went ahead and gave them flyers she made up with the district’s website information to make complaints against it. The word spread quickly amongst parents and administration. After this, there were countless investigations at the school.
With head administration from the central office and official auditors stopping by the school, you would think Principal Thomas would utilize her time better, but instead, she still tried to sabotage Miss Letty’s career.
A Well-Deserved Demotion
The second half of the year was not nearly as stressful. With Gio’s help, Miss Letty was no longer on the Teacher Support Plan (and it had since been erased from her records), and Principal Thomas was no longer allowed to do any more informal observations in her classroom. The after-school care contractor was fired and taken over by one recommended by the district. Also, the students were making great progress with their posters and comics. Things were looking promising for everyone, except for Principal Thomas.
Still filled with resentment towards Miss Letty, she made one last attempt to get her fired.
One day, she called her in her office.
She said, “Principal Thomas told me our budget doesn’t have the funds for an art teacher next year, and I might want to see employment elsewhere.”
This time Miss Letty wasn’t taking any of her nonsense. She said, “Nice try, but my position is paid for by a state bond and isn’t affected by your budget from the district. If there isn’t anything else, I’ll be leaving now.”
As she walked out of the office, Principal Thomas slammed on her desk and started cursing. She knew she could no longer manipulate her new teacher. But it wasn’t until the end of the year talent show that she really felt the wrath.
One of Miss Letty’s students decided to share his comic book as his act. He shared how Principal Thomas told him and other students to give Miss Letty trouble in class. The audience was displeased, that not only an adult would allow such behavior, but it was their own school principal.
Right before Principal Thomas got on stage to dismiss him off the stage, he ended his comic book with, “The art hero rallied the students against the angry principal to make her see the errors of her ways, but the angry principal could not become happy, so she left and the power of happiness filled the school once again.”
And his ending wasn’t too far from reality. To the surprise of no one, on the last day of school, Principal Thomas announced on the intercoms she would be resigning from the school to move to a different position where she was ‘needed’.
Her last words were, “I will miss almost all of you.”
That was the last of Principal Thomas’s bullying antics towards her. Miss Letty never saw her again until she came across her LinkedIn profile. It appeared she no longer was a principal but stepped down to teach English at a different school in another district the following year. Miss Letty couldn’t help but smile since this was what she deserved. Maybe next time she’d think twice before she tries to take advantage of young, naive teachers.