I worked as a science teacher for seven years and then applied for the principalship in the same school. I was twenty-eight years old. While I enjoyed my work as a teacher, I wanted something more. As a principal in that small school, I also taught, so I didn’t have to leave the classroom altogether.
The previous principal and I didn’t see eye to eye on many things. This man was not one I could ask questions of. And I had lots of questions, about school funding and budget to name a few. As a regular classroom teacher prior to this time, I would not have needed to know this information. I decided to ask school board personnel for information when I started the job.
However, I did learn to be diligent with paper work from the previous principal, which was his strong point, not mine without great effort. Thanks to him, I became efficient and met deadlines in spite of my distaste for paper work.
My first week on the job, a truck pulled up to the front door of the school with dozens of boxes of text books. This was a small school with a small number of students in a limited number of courses in senior high. The previous principal had ordered five copies of every book on the provincial senior high curriculum. It cost the school a great deal of money to send the books back, money which could have been put to better use for the students. Those books could not have been ordered by accident!
The superintendent of this small school board had hired me for the science position seven years before. He was a gentleman. I had stopped on my way across the island for an interview with him. He showed this young east coast woman around the central Newfoundland town where the school board was centered. He was part of the reason I accepted the job in one of the rural communities under that board.
The assistant superintendent was a former principal himself, an administrator at heart, with knowledge and ability suited to his job. I needed answers from him about administration, things I could have asked the former principal had he been approachable or helpful. Any time I asked a question of the assistant however, he smiled or laughed. I couldn’t get a straight answer from a man who had much he could teach someone who valued his knowledge and experience. What could I do?
I approached the superintendent and discussed how I valued the assistant’s ability and how he didn’t take me seriously. I wanted a working relationship. I was eager to learn and could learn much from the assistant if he treated me with respect.
The next time the assistant visited the school, he said his boss had spoken to him about the situation and things would change. They did. I learned a great deal from that man after I spoke up about his treatment of me. I wanted a chance at that job, to be respected for the educator I was and the one I could become.
The next year I began a Master’s degree in Educational Administration, the theoretical side of the job. I learned the practical information from the assistant and another mentor. I did correspondence courses throughout the next four school years and attended university for those summers. While I stayed in administration for four years, I changed my degree to Educational Counselling which I enjoyed much more.
These events occurred thirty-five years ago. According to the news these last few months, women still don’t have equal treatment in the workplace. In some respects, it may be worse.
How good does a woman have to be in order to be accepted as equal to members of the establishment? It is time for a change. Is it beginning?