Mass Exodus from St. Damian

Mass Exodus from St. Damian

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DamianMom

Toronto, Canada

#1 Aug 6, 2014
I’m not sure how many people have been paying attention to this over the summer, however, I’ve recently discovered that our wonderful staff at St. Damian has begun a mass exodus from the school and I’m becoming gravely concerned about the future of the school.

Last school year, St. Damian School had ten Grade levels, Pre-K through 8th Grade with two classes per grade, that’s twenty teachers. In addition to that, there were four “enrichment” teachers (music, art, gym, etc.), roughly 5 teacher’s aides and four members of the administration. In addition to that, we had a number of other support staff to keep the school running like secretaries, maintenance, business manager, etc. Please excuse my ignorance, but let’s say that there were an additional 6-8 people helping to support the school. All in all, last year, St Damain had roughly 40 extremely qualified and caring people who worked at that school. These people were the heart and soul of the school. They worked tirelessly to make that school as great as it could be.

Since May, St. Damian has lost the following staff:

Principal
Librarian
Computer Teacher / Technology Support
Business Manager
2nd Grade Teacher
3rd Grade Teacher
4th Grade Teacher
Jr High Social Studies Teacher
2 Jr High Math Teachers
Secretary
Special Education Services Administrator
2 Teacher’s Aides

That’s 14 people who have left St. Damian in the past 3 months. That’s 35% of our School’s Staff in 3 months! I’ve also been told that there is still the possibility that a number of other staff may still have plans to leave as well.

The average Turnover Rate for Education according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics was 2.3% in May 2014 and 2.6% in May of 2013.

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/jolts.pdf

Does anyone know why we’re losing our experienced team? I understand that there is teacher turnover each year, but in my memory, I’ve never seen this many people leave one school in such a short time-frame. A good number of these losses are not just young teachers moving onto better jobs. They're people with 8-15 years of experience who were very invested in the Damian community. Does anyone know what is causing this?

Why has there been no communication about this? I’ve tried to stop by the office a number of times this summer to speak to someone, but I’ve been unable to connect with either our new Principal or our Assistant Principal because they are simply not there. What has happened to this school that we all love and care about? What has been driving our staff away from St. Damian?

I hate to post this on an anonymous message board, but I don't know where else to go to get some answers.
BoundToHappen

Chicago, IL

#2 Aug 7, 2014
I would think its because lack of enrollment. People are struggling with their bills, taxes are making it difficult to live let alone send kids to private school.
curious

Midlothian, IL

#3 Aug 7, 2014
That is very well said and put together. This can not be put on enrollment. Changes needed to be made, but I am shocked at how many. Not all of them were the pastor's choice, some were though. I'm furious, with all of these changes, was he around today or was he "not available?" I was not aware that the computer teacher had left. The librarian, a wonderful and talented and devoted teacher, was let go last year. She could have been put in a classroom. I think our pastor is getting comfortable here.
Sad mom

Chicago, IL

#4 Aug 8, 2014
So we pick up our school packet and they can tell us our tuition amount down to the penny but as for my sons teacher we get "TBA". Come on! We don't have much time left and that's a lot if people to replace, if they're being replaced. Are they, or are that many classes being combined?
Resident Extreme

Crete, IL

#5 Aug 9, 2014
Im sure enrollment is down, but as for the turnover, there were a couple of retirements and as for the others some got better jobs. The 4th grade teacher got a public school job for instance and the 7th grade teacher may have just decided to leave over the summer.I dont know specifics on the others.

I don't think its the pastor getting too comfortable, but maybe some of the staff. The pastor, Fr. Noonan is the son of Bobbie Noonan who owns the daycare centers of the same name. He knows how a school needs to be run and its more than likely he did not like what he saw at Damian. The old principal was promoted from being a Jr. High teacher. Most of the time promoting someone like that does not work out as people cant distinguish from being a persons boss and being their friend.

There may have just been too many cozy relationships at the school and it was time for a change
Damian Parent

Chicago, IL

#6 Aug 10, 2014
While I do believe that we needed some change (we seem to be behind the public schools in terms of academics), I would not be telling the truth if I said I am feeling positive about this school year. Mainly because of the principal that was hired. I was hoping someone would be hired that had no ties to the school and wasn't entrenched with a large group of existing parents. Not to mention she has a lack of administrative experience.

I am hoping for the best because I believe in Father Joe, but I have many concerns for the upcoming school year and it hasn't even started yet. It would have been nice for her to show up to packet pickup day to help ease some fears, but that didn't happen.

If the year starts to go completely awry, I won't be waiting until next year to be changing schools.
Resident Extreme

Crete, IL

#7 Aug 12, 2014
Damian Parent wrote:
While I do believe that we needed some change (we seem to be behind the public schools in terms of academics), I would not be telling the truth if I said I am feeling positive about this school year. Mainly because of the principal that was hired. I was hoping someone would be hired that had no ties to the school and wasn't entrenched with a large group of existing parents. Not to mention she has a lack of administrative experience.
I am hoping for the best because I believe in Father Joe, but I have many concerns for the upcoming school year and it hasn't even started yet. It would have been nice for her to show up to packet pickup day to help ease some fears, but that didn't happen.
If the year starts to go completely awry, I won't be waiting until next year to be changing schools.
Are you talking about the new principal or Domke? Because Domke had no admin experience (jr high teacher) and was entrenched with the parents and had ties to the school. As far as I know the new principal is an outsider and was a principal at her last school.
Concerned Catholic

Oak Forest, IL

#8 Aug 13, 2014
My name is gossip. I have no respect for justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning, malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. I flourish at every level of society. My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me because I have no name and no face. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become. I am nobody's friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it never is the same. I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers and cause sleepless nights, heartaches and indigestion. I spawn suspicion and generate grief. I make innocent people cry in their pillows. Even my name hisses. I am GOSSIP. Office gossip, shop gossip, parking lot gossip, social media gossip - I make headlines and headaches. REMEMBER before you repeat a story ask yourself; is it true? Is it fair? Is it necessary? If not, do not repeat it. Great minds discuss...events. Shallow minds discuss people...
Damian Parent

Chicago, IL

#9 Aug 13, 2014
Discussing one's concerns does not constitute gossip. We are in fact discussing events, that unfortunately involve people.

By your "Great Minds Discuss Events....Shallow Minds Discuss People" ideology, we can talk about the economy, without discussing the president or we can talk about Benghazi without discussing Hillary Clinton. The list goes on and on.

Just because someone has an opinion that you do not agree with does not mean that it can't be discussed. If you want your world censored so that nothing unsavory is said, then I believe there are other countries you can live in (such as China, Cuba, and many others). Until then, this is the United States and there is a little thing called the First Amendment, which is Freedom of Speech.
You Have A Voice

Chicago, IL

#10 Aug 13, 2014
I encourage anyone that has a concern about the direction of the school to talk to someone that is capable of addressing them.
Do not just keep it between you and other parents, or even to the online message boards (even though I know for a fact that the powers that be read them). One of the biggest issues I see is that parents keep their concerns to themselves or between a few people. If the school administration is not being transparent as to what changes are occurring, it only lends itself to conjecture. As parents are left to decipher what has transpired, they are labeled as "gossipers".
VOICE YOUR CONCERNS! You are paying for your children's education and deserve answers.
Damian Parent

Chicago, IL

#11 Aug 13, 2014
@ Resident Extreme - The new principal is not an outsider. She is a parent of a St. Damian student and has ties to a large group of existing St. Damian Parents. She was the principal for a year at her last school. 95% of her experience is in teaching/special services. She may be amazing. She may be able to turn this school around to being "Blue Ribbon" again. She may be able to be completely objective even though she is a friend to a group of parents. I am certainly hoping all of the above will happen.

Truth be told, I was really wanting (as were many others) them to go in a completely different direction in terms of a principal, but I digress, I do believe in Father Joe and believe he is making the right choices
for our school.

Prayers for a great school year!:-)
Needing communcation

Chicago, IL

#12 Aug 13, 2014
I agree-gossip doesn't get anyone anywhere. However, I feel that there is a huge lack of communication. I have heard nothing from the administration regarding the staffing problem or what they are doing about it. Was anyone aware that the kindergarten teacher resigned from her position? When is the administration planning on making the announcement?
Another mother

Chicago, IL

#13 Aug 16, 2014
Too many changes, not enough communication.
Worried

Chicago, IL

#14 Aug 21, 2014
You'd think with all these changes we could have had a heads up. It looks like enrollment dropped more then normal.
St Damian Dad

Palos Hills, IL

#15 Aug 22, 2014
There are alot of changes. Am I the only one that didn't know the following and are upset or are there others that are upset too. And before anyone says anything, I did go into the office the principal or VP were not available and no one else would confirm or deny any of the questions I was asking.
they have made several new director positions, we barely have money to pay the staff we have yet we are creating more positions. These are full time positions with full time pay and benefits.
-The new preschool teacher is only teaching 3 days and is doing admin work the other 2 days as the new director of preschool and K. Why do we need a director for those three small classes. Both new pre-k teachers only have bachelors degrees.
-Vice Prinipal is now fulltime and teaching math to a few in the jr high
-the new music teacher who is teaching part time is also the new director for RE for K-4, again full time pay and benefits
-ALL 8TH GRADERS ARE TAKING ALEGBRA REGARDLESS IF THEY TOOK PRE-ALGEBRA LAST YEAR. WHY???
-hired another mom to do who knows what
-Seems like we are hiring alot of moms of students who have clicks and friends to over see our children and giving them director positions to keep them happy or find them a place full time.
Why isnt any of the these new director positions being created and not communicated.
Has anyone called the VP and she has actually called you back?
Worried

Chicago, IL

#16 Aug 23, 2014
Moms want to work there and will work for cheap because they want to get in there and hear the gossip, be nosey about our personal business and feel important behind that desk. It's all about who you know, that's the problem with hiring someone connected to the school.
Neighbor

United States

#17 Aug 25, 2014
I can't answer all your questions, but I believe 8th graders taking Algebra is so they won't be behind in high school. With all these changes that the government is putting into effect the kids need it so they can be inline with everyone else.
St Damian Dad wrote:
There are alot of changes. Am I the only one that didn't know the following and are upset or are there others that are upset too. And before anyone says anything, I did go into the office the principal or VP were not available and no one else would confirm or deny any of the questions I was asking.
they have made several new director positions, we barely have money to pay the staff we have yet we are creating more positions. These are full time positions with full time pay and benefits.
-The new preschool teacher is only teaching 3 days and is doing admin work the other 2 days as the new director of preschool and K. Why do we need a director for those three small classes. Both new pre-k teachers only have bachelors degrees.
-Vice Prinipal is now fulltime and teaching math to a few in the jr high
-the new music teacher who is teaching part time is also the new director for RE for K-4, again full time pay and benefits
-ALL 8TH GRADERS ARE TAKING ALEGBRA REGARDLESS IF THEY TOOK PRE-ALGEBRA LAST YEAR. WHY???
-hired another mom to do who knows what
-Seems like we are hiring alot of moms of students who have clicks and friends to over see our children and giving them director positions to keep them happy or find them a place full time.
Why isnt any of the these new director positions being created and not communicated.
Has anyone called the VP and she has actually called you back?
not surprised

Oak Forest, IL

#18 Aug 26, 2014
Did I really see the prinicpal and her son in the parking lot directing traffic today? So much for hiring someone from the "outside". I wonder what other privileges family and friends will get from her... Here we go again...
yayaya

United States

#19 Aug 26, 2014
not surprised wrote:
Did I really see the prinicpal and her son in the parking lot directing traffic today? So much for hiring someone from the "outside". I wonder what other privileges family and friends will get from her... Here we go again...
You think directing traffic is a privilege? Try it for a day, idiot.
Really

White Plains, NY

#20 Aug 27, 2014
OOOH - did he get priority parking for his BMX?
It is called presence. That is what administrators do... Get out there - be present.

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