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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Teachers happier at John Hopkins



Last year, teachers and other staffers at John Hopkins Middle School were so frustrated, 29 of them sent a letter to the district pleading for intervention. This year, there has been no letter and, as far as we know, no major complaints to the district, the teachers union or the St. Petersburg Times.

"No news is good news," Don Macneale, who handles teacher complaints for PCTA, told The Gradebook. Last year, many teachers complained about how student discipline was being dealt with. This year, a complaint about a room being too hot is about as bad as it gets, he said.

Last weekend's progress report in the Times noted teacher morale is better, and referenced a staff survey that new principal Barry Brown recently conducted. According to other results that weren't noted in the story, about 75 percent of respondents (and Brown said all but one staffer responded) said they "agree" or "strongly agree" that discipline is handled effectively and efficiently at Hopkins.

Because of space, we had to cut short some of the teacher comments in the story. But here's some of the other things they had to say:

On a scale of 1 to 10 - with 10 being the worst - social studies teacher Orlando Martinez said last year was a 10. "You couldn't teach last year," said Martinez, who credited a new administration he called "proactive." "We were defeated in the sense that it was all trying to deal with these issues so basically there was no time for teaching."

And now? "It's not perfect, but I would say we are probably a 2 or 3."

Sixth-grade geography teacher Steve Frump said the new administration set clear expectations for students, and followed up with swift consequences. The result: A big improvement in school climate.

"I would like parents to come see for themselves," Frump said. "I wouldn't say we don't have work to do ... but I think parents will be pleasantly surprised."

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 8:28am]


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