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Former Hudson Middle School teacher speaks out on morale problems



While many Hudson Middle School teachers remained anonymous in their criticisms of principal Terry Holback, one educator has come forth to give her unvarnished on-the-record view of what went on.

Anne Cirelli, the USEP's building representative this past year, posted a lengthy and detailed comment under our story on this topic that could get lost in the mix. Cirelli, who taught at Hudson Middle for 27 years, left the school at the end of the year to take a position across the county at Zephyrhills High after she was told she would be moved to a job at Hudson she did not want.

Holback said she had intended to keep Cirelli in a leadership position, just not on the team she had been assigned to previously. Cirelli says she only hopes that Holback makes good on her claim to want to change her ways.

Here's what Cirelli wrote:

"I was the USEP Building Rep, and I am willing to go on the record about the situation at Hudson Middle School. I was a faculty member at HMS for 27 years and have worked without issue for six other principals. This is the first time a climate survey has been called for by faculty. As building rep, it falls to me to listen to my faculty and to take their concerns to the administration. This past school year has been a difficult one.

"Teachers came to me expressing fear, doubt in their own professional ability, frustration in communicating with administration, and physical manifestations of stress, such as headaches, sleep loss, and panic attacks. The problems named in the article are not isolated among just a few faculty members. One only has to look at the numbers to clearly see this. I, along with two other building reps, have taken our concerns to Ms. Holback numerous times.

"She was aware of the low morale. She also was aware of our desire to have more feedback and be involved in the school decision making process. She knew that she raised her voice to an unacceptable level when dealing with faculty members, because I requested that she close her door when speaking to faculty about private matters, after teachers came to me quite disturbed about hearing what had come from her office. I don't understand how she can state that she was not aware of these perceptions. Unfortunately, her relationship piece, as she correctly states, did not fall into place, and this was the most difficult part for the faculty to accept.

"We had always taken pride in the fact that our faculty was a family. It wasn't something we just said, it something we lived. We always came together to celebrate life events and even more so, we stuck together when things got tough. When Ms. Holback announced at her first faculty meeting that she was there to fix us, we were at a loss, because there was nothing to fix. We were an A school when she became principal. We are an A school no longer. With a decline in morale, the classroom environment is impacted, and with that comes an impact on student achievement. I can only hope that Ms. Holback is sincere in her desire to change the way she relates to her faculty. It is imperative that she do so."

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 6:41am]


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