End of the Year Letter

DISCLAIMER:  NAMES OF CITIES AND SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN CHANGED!!  Those who know me will recognize the cities, the schools, and the events.  Out of respect, I changed the names of the cities and schools.  My experiences are MY EXPERIENCES and I do share my experiences because I want those who have similar experiences know — they are not alone; those who were with me during those experiences have a chance to read my understanding of what happened.  And frankly… it is cathartic to write / share.

What an amazing year!!

As I look back at 2017 I just cannot believe all that happened this year.

In February, the Kilarney High School choir director decided NOT to return.  This shook me.  Here was this “young” teacher (I am old enough to be her father) who was busting her tail to build a choir program.  The number of students was steadily increasing.  Most of the students LOVED her! Apparently, the administration wasn’t ready to give her the support she needed.  I totally understood me not receiving the new administration’s support (new principal was an assistant principal moved up to principal; too much history to overcome), but not to give this very talented teacher support?

  1. The Kilarney High School choir teacher not getting the support she needed
  2. on October 5, 2016 being told I could not use the JON DOE’S leadership material because the material is inappropriate for a public high school campus (CHECK THIS OUT:  material I AND HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF OTHER PUBLIC SCHOOLS USE…in fact, I have used his material for TWENTY YEARS… TWENTY YEARS and received “thank yous” for the material!!) was able to use at Kilarney High School from 2008 – and had only compliments for the material);  BTW – The Kilarney High School administration NEVER – N E V E R  – came to a LEADERSHIP LUNCH meeting to see how the JON DOE’s leadership material was being taught!  A parent said it and therefore, it must be “so.”
  3. previous issues with administration that would lead to a paid administration leave (September 24, 2013 – December 3, 2013) only to have me return to the classroom for three more years (taking students to Chicago for a band festival in 2014 (Gold Award) & Bray, Ireland 2016 (Best Parade Band – St. Patrick’s Day Parade);
  4. several band parents not understanding their role, includes a parent who yelled at my wife and daughter (to the point of tears). There were not enough parents who told that abusive parent she needed to go apologize to Diana and our daugther or … go away. Seeing / hearing the “silent majority’s” response to that abusive parent sent me possibly an unintended message.

I made my decision to resign.

Other than my family, I didn’t tell anyone.  I knew if I had resigned in February, it would have just made the rest of the year miserable.  Parents who didn’t like we would have been brutal.  The administration would have let me “die.”  And, in the end, the students would have felt all that negativity.  There was lot about the students about when informing folks about my decision to resign.

In March, I started to look to EDJOIN.org.  I saw Pinewood High School instrumental music teacher position was open!  Pinewood High School is in the same district that I worked in from 1997-2005!  I loved that time in my life.  Many people at that time are still there today.  So, I asked Diana, “What do you think about going back to Pinewood?”  Diana, “Go for it.”  Diana was tired.  The nine years at Kilarney High School gave us many wonderful memories.  However, the times when parents and/or their children were mean and the times of “absent “support from the administration to a toll on our health.  My blood pressure was going up.  I was gaining weight.  Just wasn’t good.  I was doing all I could to:  LOVE. CONNECT. ENCOURAGE.  Heck!!  We went from a band of 56 students to a band over 120 students; added a full-time choir director; and ADDED AN ORCHESTRA!  Trips to Carnegie Hall; Chicago Symphony Hall; BRAY, IRELAND!  And still… what I was giving:  LOVE. CONNECTION.  ENCOURAGEMENT just wasn’t being received or seen…and certainly wasn’t being given by the school or district’s leadership.  Diana paid a price. It was time to go “home.”

So, during the Kilarney spring break, I went to Pinewood and interviewed for Pinewood High School.  The interview went quite well.  I enjoyed seeing the band director who succeeded me at Stone Lake High School.  The Pinewood High School principal was an assistant principal at Stone Lake High School when I was there.  The Pinewood High School choir teacher was a former middle school band director I worked with who sent me TERRIFIC students at Stone Lake High School and then there were two strangers.  At the interview, we had a very good time.  Following the interview, I felt great.  Needless-to-say, the principal offered me the job with the message from the Pinewood High School Principal, “Welcome home, Paul.”  AND IT FELT LIKE GOING HOME.

Monday, April 17th was our monthly boosters meeting at Kilarney High School.  Following that meeting, in my office, I met the music boosters’ President and Vice-President to inform them the next day, I was handing in my resignation to the high school and district administration; I would tell the students on Wednesday.  Here is something to give you a better idea of where the boosters group was heading.  I wanted to keep control of the speed of how the news of the resignation was going to be shared so, I told the president and vice-president.  If I had told the all the boosters officers that would have been six / seven adults who knew.  They would have gone home and shared the news with their families.  They would have then told the other students. And… And… And…  I didn’t even have to tell the president or the vice-president!  I told them out of respect for all the parents.  They are the leaders of the leaders!  Well, according to a couple of boosters’ officers, that included the parent who yelled at Diana and our daugther, they believed I told the president and vice-president because…they are men and I have something against women.  Uneffingbelievable!  That warped logic was a sign that I needed to leave. I couldn’t change “those” parents’ hearts.  I am a very good leader and I don’t have the ability to changes hearts.  I had nothing more to offer to the program.  It was time for someone to take the program to the next level.  Once I saw a parent attack my wife and daughter and along with that attack, the parent was treated – by many – like nothing had happened, it was time for me to leave.  The parent never apologized to my wife or daughter and damn it… I (husband / father) was not going to put them through hell any longer.  Parents who supported me understood.  They got it.  Our time had come to an end.

Tuesday, April 18th, I handed in my resignation to the high school and district office.  The Kilarney principal walked into the band room and stood for a couple of seconds, then said, “Well, you did it.  I am shocked.”  Just a reminder … the principal was a former Kilarney High School assistant principal.  The principal was more relieved than shocked. From you (the reader), “Paul, you don’t’ know that!”  She had the “official” resignation form in her hand.  She certainly didn’t come to the band room to talk about keeping me at Kilarney High School!  The Kilarney Principal and I never had “the” meeting of “let’s have a new beginning.”  I told her, “I already filled it out and turned it in.  I am going to go have lunch with Diana (my wife).”  Diana and I left for a nice lunch.

Wednesday, April 19th, TOUGH DAY.  I had to tell FIVE classes the reasons for my resignation.  I wrote them a letter and read the letter.  I wanted to make sure each class heard the same message.  The responses were mixed.  Shock – silence.  Smiles – happy to see me leave.  Sadness – crying.  “Anyone have any questions?” I asked.  A student asks, “Mr. Everts, why did you wait so long to resign? To tell us?”  Such a great example of a teenager.  My response to his question, “Wait?  My resignation is not official until next Tuesday night!  I actually told you before my resignation is approved!”  The parents’ responses?  Reflected their children’s responses.  Many people knew my resignation was going to happen.  They were still surprised that a 51-year-old man who had (WITH A LOT OF HELP) built such a great program actually had the testicles to resign.

The rest of my time at Kilarney High School was “to be expected.”  Lots of walking on egg shells.  Not much, “Are you sure you want to leave?”  That “no question” was a sign God had given me the correct time to leave.

Then, came one of the greatest month of “MAYs” I have ever had; certainly, the best MAY, since May 24, 1996 – THE DAY OUR DAUGHTER WAS BORN!!

May 12, 2017, I saw our son fulfill his dream.  What father doesn’t live for the day when he can see his son fulfill his dream?  He became an officer in the United States Navy!  SUCH A STUD!  And, who gave him his first salute?  One of my former students.  A highly decorated officer in the United States Army.  To see a former student, give my son his first salute?! THAT IS BADASS!!

May 13, 2017 – College graduation!!  So, not only did he become an officer in the UNITED STATES NAVY, the next day he becomes a COLLEGE GRADUATE!  And, there is his name in the program listing him receiving TWO MAJOR AWARDS.  Again, WHAT A BADASS!  All that Diana and I did for eighteen years; seven days a week; twenty-four hours a day culminated by this handsome young man in a beautiful white Naval uniform accept his college degree.  ALONG WITH HIS BEAUTIFUL FIANCEE.  She, as well, would graduate that same day… IN THREE YEARS!!!!  She graduated in three years with HONORS OF ALL SORTS.  Quite a weekend.

May 20, 2017 – OUR SON MARRIES HIS INCREDIBLE FIANCEE.  The entire event – rehearsal / rehearsal dinner / wedding ceremony / reception / opening gifts day following wedding / and more –  was incredible.  I have purposely left out their names because of our son being in the Navy and our daughter-in-law’s profession.  Our daughter-in-law is wonderful!  She is super smart.  To graduate in three years with honors?  Yes.  She is smart.  She is beautiful!  Model-like beauty.  Very organized.  And, she married our son? (just joking; our son ROCKS!).  The ceremony was so thoughtful.  The reception was incredibly fun.  In a barn.  On top of hill.  You could see above the clouds.  The food – AMAZING.  Our daughter-in-law’s family did a fantastic job!  So impressed by entire weekend.  LOVED IT!

May 24, 2017 – Our daughter turned TWENTY-ONE!  We enjoyed a great dinner plus a super surprise party at a favorite bar in Kilarney.  Just a great way to bring the great MAY 2017 to a close!!

July 10, 2017 – we moved back to Pinewood!  We are in the largest home we have lived in and we have no children living with us.  We didn’t qualify for the smaller house?!  Really?  We enjoy being back in Pinewood.  We have returned to First Presbyterian Church of Pinewood.  We have seen a couple of old friends.  NEED TO DO BETTER ABOUT RE-CONNECTING WITH OUR STONE LAKE FAMILIES.

You are still reading this?  SERIOUSLY?  THANK YOU!  I will wrap it up.

I could go on about the semester at Pinewood High School.  Let me just say several of highlights:

  • A band and color guard that finished in last place OVERALL last year? Never finished close to last place this year.  In fact:  THIRD PLACE (Del Oro); SECOND PLACE (Folsom); and FIRST PLACE (Merced); FOURTH PLACE (Lincoln; Stockton)
  • Survived some STUDENTS’ mistakes (others would say “poor choices”… I would like to say “stupidity”)…really do love my students. I can handle their mistakes.  They make mistakes to learn how to be an adult and learn how to be forgiven.
  • At Fifty-One years-old, realized how much energy it takes to change a culture (NOT EVEN CLOSE TO BEING DONE WITH THAT CHANGE)
  • Getting adjusted to hearing a principal say, “I got your back.”

2017 was filled with so much (more than you want to read – and I AM BLOWN AWAY YOU ARE STILL READING THIS… THANK YOU)!  I am so grateful to God and my family for all they did to help me get through this year.  I am extremely grateful for my wife DIANA.  One of my earlier blog-entries I wrote that I cried when we left Kilarney.  I didn’t cry that we were leaving.  I cried because I saw my wife (along with our daughter) sweating / moving stuff for at least the TENTH TIME!  Because, I do believe in my calling (LOVE. CONNECTION.  ENCOURAGEMENT. ) doesn’t seem to last a lifetime (more than nine years at a high school), we have moved.  A LOT!  And there is Diana busting her ass.  An incredible lady.

I hope you had a wonderful 2017 and if you didn’t … then, make 2018 better.  If you did have a great 2017, have another great year!  Thanks for reading. LOVE YA.

2 thoughts on “End of the Year Letter”

  1. Great post. So sorry you’ve had to deal with some of this. But am proud to call you a friend and so pleased to see there are some men of integrity left. Thank you for taking the high road and being a stellar example to so many.

    1. Thank you very much Carmel for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it. Your kind response touches my heart. Also, gives me encouragement to continue to keep being who I am being and giving to my students! Since 1989, I have been through a lot (which you are starting to learn). Those last FOUR years at “Kilarney High School” were pretty brutal, but PRAISE GOD FOR THEM. We don’t look for pain. When we have pain, we need to do what we can to grow from the pain. LOVE YA and God Bless… HAVE A GREAT 2018!! 🙂

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