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It’s The Principal Of The Thing

, , , , , , | Learning | January 19, 2023

I am in charge of my school’s social media account. The principal insists that he must approve every photo I post to the account. He emails me one day.

Principal: “You recently posted pictures of [Event] without my approval.”

Me: “You emailed me those pictures and told me to post them.”

Principal: “You still need to get my approval.”

He’d forgotten he was the one who sent me the pictures but didn’t want to admit it. So, from then on, every time he sent me pictures to post, I’d immediately send them right back asking if I could post them.

Did You Just Dare Me To Take You To Court?

, , , , , , , | Legal | CREDIT: theb00kmancometh | November 20, 2022

This incident took place in India in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. The school where my sister and I studied was in my hometown. We knew almost all of the teachers since they were practically our neighbours.

By the time I graduated from school, the principal had retired and the vice principal had taken over as the principal.

[Vice Principal] was also from the same town, and for some unknown reason, he had some sort of grudge against my father. In local gatherings and such, he would always try to belittle my father at all chances he could get. My father would normally let it pass since he knows that getting into silly arguments with such a bully is totally unproductive.

When my sister and I joined the school, my father was required to pay a refundable deposit of 5,000 Rupees per child, which would be returned when each child graduated from the school. 10,000 Rupees was a large amount in the ‘90s and is equivalent to 95,000 Rupees now.

I graduated in 1989. My father enquired about the refund.

Vice Principal: “Since [Sister] will be graduating next year, both of the deposits will be returned together.”

When my sister graduated from school, my father requested that the school refund both of the deposits. There was no response, even after two weeks, and my father personally went to the school to demand the refund. [Vice Principal], being the egotistical bully, started arguing with my father stating that the school couldn’t refund the deposits. The argument became very heated, and he refused point-blank.

Vice Principal: “We are not returning the deposits. Do what you want. You can take us to court if you want!”

My father went silent, got up, and left the school. He came home, sat down with Mom, and went through all the school-related documents she had kept. My mom had a very meticulous documentation system; she used to save every receipt, bill, stub, etc.

He found the receipts for the deposits and took them to his lawyer friend. My dad informed his friends whose children were in the same school about the issue.

The lawyer filed the case and took the school to court. The school couldn’t provide any reason for withholding the deposits, so my dad won. The school was instructed to pay back the deposits with interest, as well as court dues.

My father’s friends who were in the PTA took up the issue in the subsequent PTA meeting, and they got the school’s trustee board to ensure that such issues wouldn’t be dealt with in the same manner. All deposits would be refunded in time. They strictly warned [Vice Principal] not to bring personal grudges into school business.

Other parents who were owed deposits but had forgotten about them started claiming them. It cost the school a lot to pay back all the deposits.

Sometimes A Face Of Stone Hides A Heart Of Gold

, , , , , , , | Learning | August 7, 2022

When I was a child in the 1980s, I went to an all-white elementary school in Kentucky; I was one of about seven or eight black children — if that! — in the entire school of an estimated 600 children. 

I wasn’t directly mistreated or bullied by other children, but most of them were always short with me and avoided me, giving me an “I’m not supposed to talk to you” look when I said something to them. I did have a few friends here and there, but for the most part, I just learned to amuse myself alone.

Then, along came our new principal, a six-foot-five black woman with an iron face permanently cast into an angry expression. For the entire six years I was there, we only saw her laugh once, and that was after someone performed a hysterical comedy act at a talent show. She always wore a long coat and would silently make her rounds throughout the school campus, not saying anything to anyone. If she came across someone monkeying around and doing something they shouldn’t, she would stop and give this soul-piercing, heart-stopping stare that would make a hardened lifer in prison piss on himself.

We… were… terrified of this woman. Anytime she’d pass by us, voices would immediately quiet and everyone would freeze. Teachers would say to persistent class clowns:

Teacher: “Do you want me to send you to Dr. [Principal]’s office?”

Kid: “NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! I’LL BE GOOD!”

On one occasion, a child started throwing a tantrum and refused to accompany the teacher to the principal’s office. After what seemed like an eternity of the brat’s screaming and yelling and “GIVE ME ONE MORE CHANCE!”, the teacher finally left the room. Moments later, the teacher reappeared with the principal.

This kid’s infantile screaming and crying immediately ceased on the spot.

Principal: *In an icy, dark tone* “Get off the floor.”

The kid complied and stood at attention.

Principal: “Pick up all those papers, books, and pencils you threw everywhere.”

The kid complied. Then, the principal pulled up a seat next to the child’s desk.

Principal: *To the teacher* “Carry on.”

And for the rest of the day, she sat next to him. When it was time to do assignments, I would hear her quietly speaking to him as he worked, saying things such as:

Principal: “What aren’t you understanding?” *Explains the task* “Okay, excellent. Now let’s move on to this assignment.”

Kid: “I can’t!”

Principal: “I’m sorry, what?” *Explains the problems more simply for him* “Correct! See? You can do it. Move to the next one.”

Meanwhile, everyone else in the classroom was working on their own assignments as if our futures depended on it.

At the end of the day, the principal said to the kid:

Principal: “Don’t make me have to come back out of my office again to deal with you… because next time, you’ll be spending the rest of the day with me in my office!”

She didn’t have to tell him twice!

One day, I was sitting with a friend outside who was telling me about someone who was picking on him.

Me: “Too bad you aren’t in LA; you could get your boys and pop a cap in his butt!”

And that was when I felt a rough tap on my shoulder. I felt my heart stop when I turned around to see… her, burning a hole through me with that fierce stare.

Principal: “First of all, nobody is popping caps anywhere. Where are you from?”

Me: *In a choked voice* “My mom lives in California. My dad came here because of his job. I lived in New York City, too.”

The principal continued her stare and then looked down at a small bag of cassette tapes in my hands, including one with music by N.W.A., a hip-hop group.

Principal: “What is this? N.W.A.?! Your dad bought this for you?!”

Me: “No, I took it out of the car. I’ll put it back.”

Principal: “But he plays it around the house where you hear it.”

Me: “Yeah?”

Principal: *With a cold stare* “Tell him he can come to pick it up from my office.” *Walks away*

I decided to just let my pissed dad think the tape had gotten lost.

A few days later, my teacher quietly informed me that the principal wanted to see me after school. Thinking I was about to be seriously punished for my foolish comment and for bringing that N.W.A. tape to school, I dragged myself to her office and walked in, shaking like a leaf.

She motioned for me to sit, but then she began asking me questions like, “How are you doing with your schoolwork?” and, “How are things at home?” and, “I notice you are usually by yourself. How are the other kids treating you?” It was much like what you’d expect from a school counselor.

The following day in the cafeteria, I was eating by myself when the principal walked over, picked up my tray, and motioned for me to come with her. She walked over to a table where several white students were sitting, sharply rapped on the surface, and ordered:

Principal: “Let him eat here!”

Kids: “Yes, ma’am!”

They scooted over to make room.

Principal: “What are you talking about over here?”

Kids: “Nintendo and stuff.”

The principal glanced at my shirt with Super Mario’s face imprinted on it.

Principal: “Seems like you have something in common with him already. Find what else you have in common!”

Kids: “Yes, ma’am!”

And just like that, I ended up with about four new friends.

Every week, I would be summoned to her office, where I would update her on everything going on with me and she would give me motivational talks about excelling in school, as well as other issues such as building stronger self-esteem, handling teasing from other kids, etc. Many of these talks would end with things like, “I expect to see no lower than an A on that science test, you hear?”

This continued every year all the way until I left for middle school.

Fast forward to ten years later when I ran into her while out and about.

Principal: “So, which is it, Harvard or Yale?”

Me: *Laughing* “We don’t have that kind of money. Just a community college. Hey, what made you pick me out of all those children to mentor all throughout grade school?”

Principal: “Many years ago, I had a son that was taken because of drugs and alcohol. He lived with my sister in Chicago and just let him have the free run of the city. He got involved with gangs and violence and ultimately lost his life at the age of eleven after being shot by a rival gang member. It was my wake-up call to get clean and devote my life to seeing that no other child goes down that road — not on my watch. I couldn’t help but see him when I saw your face, and when you were out there, first grade, talking about LA, gangs, and shooting people, and had that gangster rap tape in your hands… all I could think about was the cycle repeating. And I thought if I could save at least one child from my son’s fate, then the work I did to get myself where I was wasn’t all for nothing. And… it seems like it worked! Don’t prove me wrong.”

She passed away recently, which is what motivated me to write this. I’m eternally grateful for her caring that much to help motivate me to learn, make the right decisions, and try hard in my studies.

This story is part of our end-of-year Feel Good roundup for 2022!

Read the next Feel Good 2022 story!

Read the Feel Good 2022 roundup!

An Unprincipled Principal

, , , , | Learning | March 8, 2022

I’m a high school teacher. In my first year of teaching, I taught at a school where the principal was a major micro-manager. He expected teachers to be in their classroom at all times except our lunch break. This included our prep period, when we were supposed to be writing lesson plans, grading papers, and doing other teacher stuff. If we left our classroom for any reason — for example, to use the restroom or make copies in the workroom — we were supposed to lock the classroom door to prevent students from getting in and leave a note taped to the door saying where we were going. If the principal found an unlocked door or a door with no note, he would make vague threats about “consequences” and send us off with a warning to “be more careful”. None of these threats ever actually amounted to anything; they were purely a power trip for him.

One day, about a month into the school year, I needed to make copies, so I wrote a note saying I was going to the workroom and taped it to the outside of the door. Ten minutes later, the principal walked into the workroom.

Principal: “Ah, this is where you ran off to, [My Name].”

Me: “Yeah, I had to make some copies for [class].”

Principal: “Would have been nice to know that. I stopped by your room and you weren’t there.”

Me: “I taped up a note just like we’re supposed to.”

Principal: “I didn’t see a note anywhere.”

With that, the principal said some stuff about “consequences” and “be more careful,” and headed out. When I got back to my classroom, there was no note on the door. I suspected the principal had taken the note down himself, but with no proof, there was nothing I could do about it.

A few weeks later, I left the classroom again to make some copies. Once again, I left a note on the door, but this time I took a picture of the note with the date and time to prove that I had taped it up. But once again, the principal “found me” in the workroom, talked to me about “not leaving a note,” and so on. I showed the principal the picture of the note, which caught him off guard, but he recovered by claiming, “Oh, well, it wasn’t there when I stopped by.” Again, not having proof that it was the principal himself who took the note down and not some random student messing around, there was nothing I could do about it.

The next time I had to leave my classroom, I hatched a plan. All classrooms at the school had small windows set into the doors, so instead of taping the note to the outside of the door, I taped the note to the INSIDE of the window and then locked the door closed. The note was still clearly visible through the window, but now the only way to take the note down was to unlock the door. I took a picture of the note and went down to the workroom.

Sure enough, the principal once again “found me” in the workroom and started his spiel about “no note”. I cut him off.

Me: “Stop. I have proof that I left a note on the door exactly as you require.”

I showed him the picture, which clearly showed the note in the window.

Principal: “Well, it wasn’t there—”

Me: “Then where did it go?”

Principal: “What do you mean?”

Me: “This note is on the inside of the window, which you can clearly see in the picture, and the door is locked. So, where do you think the note went?”

Principal: “Maybe the tape just let go and it fell off.”

Me: “Okay, let’s go look in my classroom. If it just fell off, then it should be lying on the floor just inside the door.”

By this point, the principal was starting to look guilty, but he put on a brave face and walked to my classroom with me. I opened my still-locked classroom door, turned on the lights, and pointedly studied the floor around the door.

Me: “I don’t see a fallen note anywhere, [Principal]. Do you see one?”

Principal: “I suppose maybe some kid tore it down as a prank.”

Me: “You just saw that the door was still locked. If someone took the note down, they had to have a key to my classroom. Do you know any students who have those keys?”

The principal stammered for a few moments and then promised to “look into this matter” and walked off down the hallway. Again, not having actual proof that it was the principal himself who unlocked my door and took down my note, I couldn’t do anything but privately enjoy what I knew to be a victory against the principal.

The next day, I told my fellow teachers about the whole series of incidents during lunch. Nearly every teacher said that they had experienced the same thing in their first years, but everybody just tolerated it because the threat of “consequences” never amounted to anything. Nobody had ever thought of the window trick, but every teacher started doing it after I told them.

The principal continued to find ways to indulge his ego throughout the rest of the year, but because he never actually disciplined anyone, we all ignored him and went about our business. I resigned at the end of the year and directly cited the principal’s harassment as the primary reason. As far as I know, he is still the principal at that school, but I have since found a job at a school with a much more friendly principal.

Getting Through School Is A Taller Order For Some

, , , , , , , , , | Learning | December 17, 2021

I am a twenty-two-year-old woman who has always been unnaturally tall. I am currently 6’9” (2.05m), and when I was twelve I was 6’3” (1.95m)! Life is hard enough for a teenage girl, but in my case, it was worse because I was bullied for my height, and the teachers at my school (a middle-class all-girls grammar school) were generally never very good at dealing with issues like this.

As an example, when I was thirteen, my mother, unable to find shoes that fit me, had to buy boy’s shoes. Someone in my school found out about it and started calling me “Boyshoes”. This in turn led to the rumour that I was born male (I wasn’t), and of course, all the girls in my school had to see for themselves if this was true by touching my breasts (to “see if they were real”) and putting their hands up my skirt (to “see if I had a penis”). When my mother complained to the school, they said there was very little they could do. I guess they meant there was very little they were willing to do. My mother claimed that this was sexual harassment, but the school disagreed, saying it couldn’t be sexual harassment as it was an all-girls school and the perpetrators were girls. My mother went to a solicitor, who wrote to the school, and they finally did something.

On another occasion, my mother had been having trouble finding a uniform to fit me. I was tall, but I wasn’t skinny like some tall girls; I was curvy and heavyset, and buying a uniform sized for a girl my age was out of the question. She tried uniforms for seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds — I wasn’t even fourteen at this point — and although they did fit, the skirts were far too short.

The school’s uniform policy stated that the hem of the skirt should not come too far above the knee. This was measured by kneeling on the floor and measuring from hem to floor — the distance should not have been more than about two inches. In my case, it was closer to seven inches, and when I stood up, the skirt was well above my knee because my legs were so long! At this point, my mother gave up; the skirt fit, the jacket fit, and she’d found blouses that fit, so she was just going to send me to school, shorter skirt or not.

It wasn’t long before I got a detention for a “non-regulation uniform” and was told to come in the next day with a regulation-length skirt. The following day, I got another detention for “non-regulation uniform and failing to rectify this issue in a timely manner”. I also got a letter sent home with me, warning my mother that I would potentially be suspended if I turned up to school in non-regulation uniform again.

My mother was livid! She stormed up to the school and demanded to see the principal. She waved the letter in his face and demanded to know why the school was “picking on me”. The principal was uninterested and made some excuse about how “the school’s uniform policy is for everyone’s benefit”. My mother told the principal that the school’s official uniform supplier didn’t make uniforms for girls of my height and build, and that if I wasn’t left alone, she’d be taking further legal action.

The school never bothered me about my “non-regulation” uniform again.