You reap what you sow

Tuesday , April 15, 2014 - 10:00 PM

Doug Gibson


Guest commentary

On the very day that Joyce Wilson’s opinion piece ran in the Standard-Examiner, I ran into a former colleague from Highland Junior High. I told her to tell the students that I miss them, and I did not leave because of them. In fact I felt wistful then, just as I felt last summer when I left the Ogden City School District after fourteen years.

Ms. Wilson, I did not leave the district years ago. I do not hate anyone. I am not a disgruntled former employee, but I have become an activist. I became a part of the Weber County Democratic Education Caucus last summer before I left my job, out of concern over what is going on in Ogden.

When I was hired in Ogden in 1999, I was fortunate in that those who supervised me found me a mentor who guided me well. The first few years were rough; I wince when I recall the discipline issues, the lessons that did not go as planned, the workload. I am grateful for the support I received, and I became a good teacher. It is something I still work on.

For years I did my work and I was not involved in politics, other than to vote. I do not live in Ogden, so I was barely aware of school board races. I was a member of the Ogden Education Association, but I only became involved as a building representative and later the vice president of OEA because somebody needed to do it. Even when a board member lied in this very paper about our attempts to negotiate in 2011, I remained silent. I can be silent no more.

I am not hiding behind a screen name. I was the only teacher who agreed to be named in the article published in this paper last November. I have a right to speak up, even though I have left, because I am concerned about what is going on in the district. It matters very much to me when there are two versions of what is going on- the official story, complete with unverified statistics and self-aggrandizing articles published here and in other media- and what I know as a trained professional and an educated individual to be true. I also have a personal reason to care; in addition to my former students, I have had two nieces graduate from Ogden High, and they have younger siblings in the District. I want my year old great niece to have a good school to go to in a few years.

To my former students, thank you. To the Accelerated students I taught last year, I am sorry we did not get to use the curriculum that I had told you about. Another teacher and I met several times over the summer, planning what I would do. The Friday before school started, I was given a scripted curriculum and told I would teach it.

When I resigned, I made a brief statement at the school board meeting, in which I spoke about the years I kept working, hoping that things would get better in Ogden. Now that I have left I have board members and the superintendent implying that those of us who left did so because we could not hack it. I have worked since I was 16 years old, and I have never had a former employer insult me in the newspaper. This is what creates political activism. You reap what you sow.

Vipperman is a professional teacher.

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