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Ms. Summers Writes Her Own Story

September 11, 2012
Pike's Place Market Flowers

For a mere $5 at Pike’s Place Market, all your worries can be replace by beautiful flowers. The $4 ice cream cone helped too.

After spending the day power walking around Seattle and buying myself consolation flowers from Pike’s Place Market and a carmel and sea salt ice cream cone, I have come to a conclusion. It’s not just a what happens to me now as a teacher conclusion, but more of a life conclusion.

Back story for those who missed the rant in my last post: after TNTP Academy calculated my value added data (which means what the kids in my class gained from me), I dropped from a passing score of 8 out of 10 to a failing score of 5 out of 10.

Since I found out I failed, I have also been informed that since I’m not teaching in New Orleans this year, I can’t be put on an extension plan, and I can’t get certified through TNTP Academy. That means I’m dropped from the program. There is no appeal process for people like me. I also found out that out of the 60ish kids I taught, only 13 were included in that value added data (5 of which were included for my reading score EXCEPT I DIDN’T EVEN TEACH READING), those 13 being selected by the state based on the fact that they had 3 years of previous data. Which 13? Who knows. TNTP doesn’t. And so far, no one will tell me. Is it the 13 that came from 5th grade, 6th grade, or 3rd time 8th graders? Frustration level rises.

One more sweet fact: I can continue on the extension plan (not guaranteeing certification) if I pack up and move back to New Orleans and teach until the end of the school year. That’s their favorite option.

But what is best for me? Where is the benefit of returning to New Orleans to play certification games with people who send me form letters and aren’t interested in helping, just in making me fit in a mold so the stats look good on paper? Yes, I want to be certified to teach, but what’s good for me now is to continue my education, and to keep moving forward with my life. I can’t afford a do-over, as much as I would LOVE to be back in New Orleans. If the attempt to reconsider the value added metrics does not work, I’m on another path to certification that hopefully won’t feel so bad.

Deriyan and Ms. Summers

I love this photo. D. had just received the top score in the nation on her Achieve 3000 program, and we honored her at the school. She didn’t want to have her photo taken, so we eased into it with this.

In the mean time, this terrible teacher has been getting lots of love from afar from old students. One girl has been finding ways to communicate with me, texting from another teacher’s phone, calling from her mom’s cell phone, and yesterday I received a hand written letter from her in the mail. She has never written a letter before. This is my girl who is turning 18 this year, who has cerebral palsy and no friends and sleeps on an air mattress at her house because everyone else shares the beds. Who tells me I’m her best friend. Who PASSED the LEAP test this year after being out of school for a couple years for health problems.

Right. I add no value.

And then there’s this, from another LEAP passer who was in 5th grade the year before being in my 8th grade class. He called me from his grandma’s phone:

Ms. Summers?

Yes. Who’s this?

It’s K.

K! You sound different.

Is your voice changing? Yeah. And I have a mustache and beard and stuff.

Must focus on the good stuff. I left New Orleans with much more sweet than bitter, and I refuse to let that change. Ms. Summers doesn’t let someone tell her she can’t do something. I can imagine telling this to my kids in my classroom with a pointer finger in the air, adamant, some kid in the back rolling his eyes and then smiling at me, letting me know I’m doing that thing again where I preach how to be successful that they all hated but loved, and then quoted in their end of the trimester essays — “I can be whatever I want to be and nothing can keep me down.” I spent the entire year telling the kids that they can overcome anything, that no person or situation can control who they are or want to be. That we all have the choice, and the minute we let someone choose for us, we give up our freedom and our forward movement and become a character in someone else’s story.

No thank you. Ms. Summers writes her own story.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Jay Mazza permalink
    September 11, 2012 8:17 pm

    Great post!

  2. Catherine and Craig Summers permalink
    September 11, 2012 11:07 pm

    Just keep thinking and doing. You’re on a good path. “Write your own story” with the outcome you want. Love, Dad

    On Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 7:51 PM, New to the Orleans wrote:

    > ** > sunnydawnsummers posted: ” For a mere $5 at Pike’s Place Market, all > your worries can be replace by beautiful flowers. The $4 ice cream cone > helped too. After spending the day power walking around Seattle > and”

  3. Peggy Matlock permalink
    September 11, 2012 11:24 pm

    Come teach for me, Ms. Summers.

  4. September 12, 2012 7:44 am

    Inspirational Sunny! What you gave those students in one year is more than most will get in their whole school experience. And they still need you!

  5. didier morvan permalink
    September 12, 2012 1:51 pm

    I am so happy your spirits refuse to diminish, burn brightly as your name.

  6. September 12, 2012 6:02 pm

    amen! keep your chin up and keep fighting!! we need you!!

  7. September 21, 2014 8:13 pm


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