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Do Not Apply – 2 – Eximius College Prep

June 30, 2008 am30 6:01 am

Two anonymous commenters below have chosen multiple names in ways that may confuse readers. I have identified them as XA1 and XA2 so that readers can fairly understand how many voices are present.

With one of the lowest staff retention rates in the city, Eximius is another career-ender. Stay away.

Safety and discipline are top issues at the 6 – 12 school in the Bronx, from classroom phones not working, to kids not being disciplined for serious infractions, to reports not being filed for serious incidents. In some cases arbitrary rules are enforced, such as the ban on water bottles in classrooms during the recent heatwave (classrooms are not air conditioned, though the principal’s office is)

Here are some comments by Eximius teachers:

The major issue is safety/discipline, to the point of regular food fights in the cafeteria nearly causing riots, weapons, out of control water fights, teachers shoved and pushed, and rampant disrespect and disorderliness, often right in front of the principal. Clearly they do not respect her and often complain about her in brutally honest terms. Consequences feel arbitrary and unfair, and most often the teacher is blamed for “faulty classroom management” even when they have received no support all year, and the school is spinning out of control generally. 25% of the staff received U-ratings! Schedules and class rosters changed three times this year (a disaster for MS students who need the stability and routines). Concerned parents are stonewalled by administration and the PTA is actively undermined (flyers “disappearing”, etc.) and there’s no parent coordinator.

As far as turnover, for the 2007-08 school year, we had 31 teachers at the beginning of the year. I anticipate a 61% teacher turnover rate this year, against 52% last year and 30% the year before.

For more comments, see Inside Schools’ report, especially the parent comments at the end.

I’ll be adding to this list, but you can help. If you know a school that is a career-ender, e-mail me at “this blog name” at gmail dot com. Explain how the school ends careers, and if possible, share some anecdotes. If you save even one new teacher from ending up at a hell hole, it will have been well worth it.

  1. XA1 Ex-Eximius Teacher permalink
    July 9, 2008 am31 8:36 am 8:36 am

    i was a teacher at this school in the 2007-2008 year. i completely agree with everything said here. this school is definitely a career ender!
    teachers PLEASE stay away from this school. you will be abused to no end!! and the principal is very abusive and will humiliate you constantly.

    this year about 26 teachers and staff have already walked out (out of 40).

    you do the math, this school is only bad news and needs to either be closed or the principal needs to be removed. she is an ineffective abusive leader and discipline is always blamed on the teacher, but i have seen students abuse and disrespect the principal to her face and she does nothing! but she will try to give you a U rating at the end of the year!!

  2. XA1 teacher permalink
    July 9, 2008 am31 9:12 am 9:12 am

    the principal had to give 25% of her staff U ratings because she wants to show (to whomever) that the problems at her school are not because of her faulty leadership and administrative skills but because she has “ineffective teachers”! this was her agenda from September.

  3. Lili Juliet Santos permalink
    July 10, 2008 am31 3:39 am 3:39 am

    I completly understand peoples frustration with this school.The principal is vindictive and a sad example of leadership and excellence. She had water bottles band from school during the heat wave that was going on. However, the students caused the root of the problem for pooring water on eachother to keep cool during the hot weather. The school’s airconditioning only works for about 4 classrooms in the entire 6-12 grade. If i was one of the students i would of poored water on myself also. The incompetance of the principle caused 26 out of 40 teachers to march for the U ratings.The unstable foundation of the school is causing a good intention to end up as a horror hall of raging students. The 7th grade is seperated from hispanics and blacks or african americans. This has caused much of the food fights, arguements and disruption. If this school does not undergo threw a new change, nothing profitable will come out of this effort. An uneducated and distuptive enviroment cant be hidden behind fancy names, color coded furniture and students in over priced uniforms.

  4. Leslie Santana permalink
    July 14, 2008 pm31 6:20 pm 6:20 pm

    I agree 100% with all of the postings here on this blog. I am a parent of a student at Eximius. This has been the most horrendous school experience ever for my child who is just starting HS. At first, I though it was just her trying to adjust to the new life of HS, but later came to realize that the founding principal Ms. T. Smith is nothing but a facade of an administrator. She is not even certified as a teacher but as a school administrator, how terrible for our students to know such a world of abandonment by their school leader. As for the water bottles being banned during the heat wave, she should be ashamed of herself. I brought it to the media’s attention and so you have me to thank for that. What I dont understand is, if you as teachers are so miserable, why don’t you speak to the union or file a grievance with the superintendent’s office? You have rights too, did you know this? I want to respond to Lili Juliet’s statement about the students causing the root of the problem by pouring water on themselves, how can you say that? The human body is made to react to undesirable conditions, and the brain automatically kicks in fight or flight, so they either pass out from heat exhaustion or pour water on themselves to cool off the nervous system. Which one would you do? My kid has asthma and I will be damned if the school is going to put her in jeopardy again like they did in June. Eximius stands for Excellence in Latin, but it is a Fallere, Latin for Failure.

  5. anon. permalink
    July 14, 2008 pm31 9:48 pm 9:48 pm

    I was looking up the address of this school on the net to go to an interview there and came across this blog.

    Whoa!!! I said to myself.

    Cancelled the intereview in a shot.


  6. Very Concerned permalink
    July 15, 2008 am31 12:56 am 12:56 am

    Smart move by cancelling. I didn’t and now I feel stuck with the descision. Good luck in finding a position otherwise.

  7. XA2 anonymous permalink
    July 15, 2008 am31 6:35 am 6:35 am

    To the ex-Eximius teachers, I am really surprised that you are not too bright. First of all I am sure it is not very difficult to determine who you are by using the process of elimination. A word of advice you never know if your present principal is reading this blog and would now look at you in a different light. We all have some unpleasant situations in life. However, unless you know someone personally, you do not get on a blog and bash people. It sounds quite ignorant to say that a principal gives out U ratings because of her faulty leadership. What does that say about you? If the principal’s leadership is faulty, does that diminish your responsibilities and teaching abilities? It sounds like you were lucky to have been even hired as a teacher. People only do to you what you allow. I would really like to see some other teachers from Eximius respond so we can get the true picture. You ex-Eximius teachers sound angry. Please understand that I am not saying some things might not have happened ; but as adults there are ways to address things. I definitely would not like any of you teaching my children with your unprofessional behavior. I am quite sure that you have not been in the system long and you are the cause of miseducating some of our children. That’s what you do, go from school to school because your true colors come to ligt and then you have to keep moving. Take a minute to reflect , look at yourself and see how you can change and improve somethings about yourself.

  8. XA2 concerned blogger permalink
    July 15, 2008 am31 6:57 am 6:57 am

    Ms. Santana seems to be quite uneducated. .How does she think that Ms. Smith is not even a certified teacher but is an administrator?
    She is also giving advice to teachers as what they should do to file a grievance. Doesn’t she think that teachers are aware of their rights. Please Ms. Santana go to the DOE website and get some insight on the qualifications necessary to be a teacher as well as an educator. It seems that writing on this blog is the only place she can feel powerful.

  9. XA2 concerned blogger permalink
    July 15, 2008 am31 7:01 am 7:01 am

    My error – qualifications necessary to be a teacher as well as an administrator

  10. July 15, 2008 pm31 2:36 pm 2:36 pm


    thank you for speaking up before, and for writing here.

    Something bad has happened in the Bronx, that allowed way too many small schools to open way too quickly without real oversight from the DoE or the union. In most cases we’ve gotten a handle on what’s going on, but there are a few that have remained out of control. I have been writing about a few (8 now?) that teachers should stay away from. The union in these schools is too weak to protect its members, and the members are being abused and need protection. And Eximius is right at or near the top of this list.

  11. July 15, 2008 pm31 2:36 pm 2:36 pm

    Anonymous/concerned blogger,
    given that over half the teachers from last September will not be there this September, I assume that Eximius is a poorly run school with lousy administration. Plus we have the first-hand reports.

    Do you have some information to the contrary?

    Please use only one name when you comment here.

    Finally, directing abuse and threats to commenters on this blog will not be tolerated. Please modify your behavior here.

  12. Former Eximius Teacher permalink
    July 16, 2008 am31 5:44 am 5:44 am

    Do not intimidate me. I sat in fear most of my time at Eximius. I refuse to be afraid now.

    I left Eximius for the following reasons:

    *On more than a dozen occasions, I went to teach my class in the assigned room, only to find the schedule changed. Thus, someone was teaching in my regularly scheduled classroom, leaving me with 30 kids and no where to take them. Then I was discipled for not having “control” of my classroom.

    *At least 2 teachers I know got bladder infections or had other major health issues because we were not given the breaks we needed for basics — like bathroom breaks.

    *We had no safety plan and no working phones in our rooms. In one instance, a student had a seizure in class. The classroom teacher did not know what to do. She called 911 and emptied the classroom into an a-joining classroom. Thank god we had such a bright teaching staff. She very well may have saved that student’s life. She feared being disciplined for calling 911. This indicates the kind of fear we lived in this building.

    I could go on for a while. And I kept documentation of all of these incident. I have most of this documentation still.

    It should also be noted that many of us who left went to better schools. And we are thriving in these schools. Meaning that there was nothing wrong with us as teachers. We did the best we could with the structures we were given, and given new structures we excelled. This was not just me. There are several of us. Administrators create these larger structures, not the teachers.

    As teachers, we tried, in fact, we actually staged a walk out at one point — to no avail. I cannot speak for all of those who left, but I can tell you this we care about those kids. I could not be a part of the chaos anymore. I could not handle it myself, and I could not guide a child through that.

    I know the kids in that building, and I truly want them to have the best teachers they can get. However, some of the best teacher I know could not push through that chaos. Until the chaos is dealt with, even the most experienced teacher will struggle.

  13. staff @ Eximius permalink
    July 17, 2008 am31 4:48 am 4:48 am

    Eximius school culture has set of norms, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, symbols and stories that make up the “persona” of our school. These unwritten expectations build up over time as teachers, administrators, parents, and students work together, solve problems, deal with challenges and, at times, cope with failures We are committed to the academic success of our students. I can say this because I’m a staff at Eximius and work closely with Ms. Smith. I wittness first hand her committment to the students and her staff.

    We need a positive professional culture. We need parents and teachers to be apart of the solution, not the problem. Negative and toxic remarks will only hinder our success.

    What can you contrbute as a teacher or parent to the school’s vision ?

  14. Staff @ Eximius permalink
    July 17, 2008 am31 5:52 am 5:52 am

    Staff @ Eximuis

    My errors:.
    1- Eximus school culture has a set of norms

  15. Another disgruntled employee permalink
    July 17, 2008 am31 7:12 am 7:12 am

    Wow! I just happened to be looking on the internet for links to Eximius to find out how the school was fairing. I do this sometimes just to look back at the school that I taught at very briefly–much the same way that I look at my bowel movements. My looks vary from amazement to disgust in both cases.

    Normally I find links to open positions at Eximius, to which I chuckle and fall into a trance like a shell shocked Vietnam War veteran thinking about my days teaching there.

    As I said, I taught at this school too but I did not last more than 1 month. The guy who replaced me lasted 1 week. Eeeeverything that was said here is true to the nth degree!

    The kids were disrespectful but manageable….. usually.

    Much less can be said about the administration. Everything I hated (with a capital H) about teaching there stemmed directly from administration, although now I just feel sorry for them.

    To say that this school is a potential “career ender” is not an exaggeration whatsoever. I almost left teaching because of my experiences at Eximius. New teachers AND career veterans will be eaten alive or slowly worn down at this school. The union was helpless (by the way) in this district.

    Turnover has to be astronomical because I know of at least 10 teachers who aren’t there anymore.

    In closing, leaving this school HAD to be a gift from god. It was by far the best move I have ever made!

  16. XA1 another former eximius teacher permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 12:54 am 12:54 am

    i want to thank everyone for finally speaking out about eximius. i was a teacher there too. and i am very happy for those who read this and decide not to attend interviews or take positions at this school.
    there was constant fear at eximius. sadly, it was only the teachers who were afraid because the kids knew that Tammy Smith would not do anything if they disrespected and abused her or us.
    We were mentally tortured, humiliated and burnt-out (wow! the amount of paperwork this incompetent lady made us do).
    the sad thing is, even after all this time there are still people (like the one who wrote on this blog) that it is the fault of the teachers. MOST TEACHERS CANNOT TEACH EFFECTIVELY IN THIS SCHOOL. was there something wrong with all the teachers that decided to walk out as the poster suggests? how can that be? these teachers included people from all walks in life, rational people with bachelor and master degrees, science, math and english teachers. Not to mention all the Dean’s and AP’s that left disillusioned and disheartened. I almost gave up on teaching, because i was told day after day that i was an incompetent teacher, from none other than the incompetent administration! and now, after being in a better school that is actually organized, i have seen the light! OMG it gets sooo much better after Eximius!

    please do not end your career by applying to this school.

  17. XA1 teacher permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 1:02 am 1:02 am

    concerned blogger:

    actually teachers at eximius do not know their union rights, being that the UFT rep is in cohoots with the administration and is useless/was useless. thank you Leslie.
    rights are constantly covered up and when one talks about it or mentions it they are blitzed with counseling memos and disciplinary action letters. and are intimidated into thinking something is wrong with them. like scared children. I refuse to be intimidated about anymore.

    Ms. Santana, your daughter is a extremely bright, loving child. I know her personally. Take her out of Eximius as it will ruin her education b/c teachers keep leaving.

  18. XA1 teacher permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 1:10 am 1:10 am

    to anonymous: july 15th:

    what is wrong with you? we have the right to our opinion about a school that we all worked at. this is called “freedom of speech”. but of course i forgot that Eximius tried to deny teachers their God Given Rights. like bathroom breaks, rest, sleep, a chance to smile!

    btw fyi (and this is for the general public) the school was so bad that some teachers were stress eating, some began smoking, some started popping stress pills/medication everyday and some were hitting bars every week. I am sure the AP’s high blood pressure got worse after being at Eximius for a whole year.

  19. XA1 Parent of 6th grader permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 1:14 am 1:14 am

    i want to thank lili for pointing out that the 6th and 7th graders were segregated based on their race. All hispanics in one class and all African Americans in the other. THIS IS 2008. this is ILLEGAL. i am surprised that the administration is not getting written up on this. parents have complained, including the PTA (when i spoke to them about this) but perhaps Tammy has some big connections who don’t care about ‘poor bronx kids’. it’s a shame!!!!!!!!

  20. XA1 see for yourself, its not an illusion permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 1:20 am 1:20 am

    read Eximius’ learning environment survey for 2007-2008 as well the previous year.

    teacher’s page is page 18: see what they think about the management and the word of the Principal Tammy Smith:

  21. XA1 see for yourself, its not an illusion permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 1:22 am 1:22 am

    Eximius’ learning environment survey, 2007-2008. Teacher’s page is on page 10: read what teachers think about the management and the word of Principal Tammy Smith

  22. Another disgruntled employee permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 3:16 am 3:16 am

    Big connections? Are you referring to JOEL?? ;) Anyway…she takes that “empowerment” bull**** seriously.

    I don’t know why this school isn’t on the SURR list yet. Maybe I’m just jumping the gun. :)

    I have a few questions to ask of teachers who are still there:

    Is Tammy still sending out memos b*tching about bulletin boards (even though the school’s a wreck) ? Do she still make you sign for every stupid memo she sends? Does she still make you give up a significant number of days of your summer vacation for utterly useless “mandatory” PDs? Do you still get coverages for classes that Tammy can’t and won’t find a teacher for? And does she still have the gall to observe you in these classes that you are covering? Are the stupid unenforced “non-negotiables” still encased in glass like they are part of the ****ing Bill of Rights? Do you have enough desks/chairs in your room? Does Tammy or Mendelsohn still threaten to write you up if you don’t escort 15 or16 yr olds to the lunch room as if they’re frigging 9 yr olds????

  23. XA1 a teacher who made the best decision: to leave eximius permalink
    July 19, 2008 am31 9:39 am 9:39 am

    i am so glad the message about this school is getting out there. you are right, it should be on the SURR list because it is failing, the scores are going down but she has her connections, like another teacher said.
    also, why the heck is College Board still associating themselves with this school? its a shame on their name!

    to the above disgruntled employee, yes there are still counseling memos, some teachers received more than others. the bulletin boards were graded and you were shamed if they weren’t all flashy because that would mean Tammy didn’t have anything to “show” visitors (since that was her foremost concern).

    yes we still had the PDs last summer, for which i went, and did not get paid! oh and the coverages! they are the best ever, we now have a teacher who ASSIGNED the coverages and god forbid you get on HER bad side. Breitling is another B**CH who can’t handle power.

    and we are very much judged on these coverages. She expected high school teachers to automatically and psychically control and know the name of every middle school kid they were covering and vice versa (for middle school teachers covering high school) b/c you were never given a roster.

    Mendelson is not there anymore, its now an idiot name Trillana. he was smart when he walked in but then he bought into Tammy’s bulls**t.

    i’m sure the local precinct has a file on this school and specific folders for many many students. they kept visiting us. The kids are now more out of control than ever. I wonder what’s going to happen next year when they add on one MORE grade!

  24. Another disgruntled employee permalink
    July 19, 2008 pm31 4:49 pm 4:49 pm

    I could really give my opinion about Breitling, but I won’t. Not here. But I will say that she was the only teacher I absolutely could not stand.

    Trillana might be from another school called the Bronx Early Academy for Teaching and Learning. I don’t know if it’s the same person but a person by the name of Trillana started the school in 2006 (just like Tammy) and was there for one year. I don’t know if he chose to leave or was replaced. This school received a classification as “undeveloped” on its quality review report. (

    Honestly, I’ve seen horrible schools get good marks on its QRR. ( Eximius is one of them. :0 ) For “BECA” to get an “undeveloped” says a lot, I think. Does it reflect on Trillana? I don’t know but it may give some insight into his mentality coming from a failing school.

    It’s interesting that JOEL is the connection between these 2 schools. Nothing like putting 2 failing administrators in the same building.

  25. July 19, 2008 pm31 5:11 pm 5:11 pm

    I understand that you have a lot to say, and you are welcome to. However, I need to ask you to restrict yourself to one name. Otherwise a reader might mistakenly believe that many more Eximius teachers and ex-teachers are commenting here than actually are.

    If you tell me what name you’d like to use, I’d be happy to change your old comments to match.

  26. another disgruntled employee permalink
    July 19, 2008 pm31 7:02 pm 7:02 pm

    jd2718: Will do. I will always be known as “another disgruntled employee” from this point on ;)

    Does anyone know who the most current teachers, staff and administrators are at Eximius? I am just curious to see how many changes have been made since I last taught there.

    By the way, the color burgundy now makes my left eye twitch and makes me break out in hives. :)

  27. XA1 a teacher who made the best decision: to leave eximius permalink
    July 20, 2008 am31 10:39 am 10:39 am

    hello its me again,
    i’m replying to disgruntled employee’s post. I went to insideschools about BECA and yes, its the same man. that was the AP last year. Very interesting that he was DEMOTED from his position and transferred over here. very interesting indeed. i wonder what happened there?
    i do not want to talk about breitling either. it would be a waste of time. however, she is getting more power and since she suffers from low self-esteem and some psychological issues, power in her hands (and head) would just be a baaaad thing! oh well, that’s Eximius!
    i feel bad for any people who will be working there next year.

    please please, if you are reading this, save your career and DO NOT APPLY TO EXIMIUS, like other prior teachers have stated.

    do not believe what tammy will tell you at the interview, which is that its a “college board school, and they encourage kids to have the college mindset early on and there aren’t any major problems in the school, and the kids are college ready and they offer this program and that program”….she forgets to mention how she will abuse (for lack of a stronger word) you day and night including holidays and weekends so that your soul is crushed and you wake up everyday not wanting to walk into that “eye-twitching” (as disgruntled employee calls it) burgundy building.

    THANK YOU disgruntled employee for the tip on TRILLANA and the JOEL connection. i hope somebody investigates this JOEL guy. it gets stranger.

  28. XA2 ex- teacher from Eximius permalink
    July 21, 2008 am31 3:47 am 3:47 am

    I am a teacher who just left Eximius. I am not going to use this space to blast or belittle anyone since I know that I am not perfect. I did not receive a U. Please understand a teacher can get a U in some areas but still get an S overall. I covered the seventh grade classes on many occasions and must say that it was definitely not divided based on race. That is an outright lie. A former Spanish teacher, who left ,suggested students be divided based on how well they spoke Spanish. The students from both classes are friends . Was I happy about all the things that transpired all of the time – No!!!!!. No one spoke about anything about the positive. What about some of the teachers who volunteered for student dances? Everyone talked about the water bottles being banned. Some teachers still allowed students to bring the bottles with their supervision. Why did no one talk about how the students flooded the floors with the water and the numerous times that the custodian had to mop the floors. Parents must also take responsibility for their children’s behavior. A lot of high school students enter Eximius with very low skills . I was curious about the scores even though I left and I found out and you could too that none of the seventh graders failed the ELA test and only one student in the seventh failed the math test and by a few points. I must say that both the past union leader and the present one did a pretty good job. The present union person is not in cohoots with the administration as someone else said but understands that having a working relationship with the prncipal is essential . As for the drinking and bladder infections, I can only say that one cannot blame the principal if you did not go to the bathroom. I went out drinking with the staff many times because I wanted to. Please feel that I do not agree with everything that went on at Eximius. Why isn’t anyone talking about the many instances that teachers talked negatively about students and their families because they were different and could not cope . Please understand that I myself did not do my homework before coming to Eximius – by that I mean the South Bronx – most people do not want to come to the South Bronx. Someone mentioned that Ms. Smith’s office is airconditioned. I was in an aircondiitoned room and there were more senior teachers who had no airconditioning. This has nothing to do with Ms. Smith, but with the DOE. As a matter of fact, on several occasions, there were people from the DOE who came to look at the aircondiitoners. I need to say that Mr. Trillana is a very decent human being. One never knows what someone is going through so to start calling people names, no matter how angry you are is unfair. Ms. Smith has a great vision for the school. The school is in its third year and is experiencing growing pains. Before I left, I went in and aired everything I felt to Ms. Smith and trust me I vented.

  29. XA2 ex- teacher from Eximius permalink
    July 21, 2008 am31 3:57 am 3:57 am

    I need to continue – I am not thrilled about bulletin boards. However, this is an ongoing thing with all schools – not just Eximius- There were two high school teachers who had exemplary bulletin boards and also many middle school teachers. I will refrain from name telling. May I tell you that you cannot get written for a bulletin board – so I never paid attention to any of that. What about the teachers who came late on numerous occasions. What I wish for Eximius is that the staff who remain behind try to work together to bring about some change. It seems that most people who wrote in had no interest in seeing how to help in making things better for the children – but felt that it was a place to talk about every negative thing. No one except one blogger ask how one can find a solution. I need to say in closing that it shows no child left behind is so unimportant – to Bush and to a lot of educators. I know if you felt that you were treated unfairly – you have a right to be angry – but you must let go in order to move on.

  30. another disgruntled employee permalink
    July 21, 2008 am31 5:38 am 5:38 am

    To XA2:

    Perhaps you choose not to vent as we do because you were not one of the teachers that were abused. That is your choice. However, please do not tell others how to share their opinions on the matter as it comes across as very patronizing.

    As we compare notes, vent, give our opinions, etc, we do so as a means of reclaiming our dignity–to affirm that it wasn’t our fault that things went wrong at Eximius. The small cathartic gesture of posting on this blog (which sometimes involves striking out at abusers) is a yet a small amount of “get back” compared to the abuse doled out by the administration at Eximius. Don’t begrudge us this.

    As far as the illegality of being written up for a bulletin board, I won’t address this authoritatively as I don’t know what the contract says about this. Illegal is it may be, brand new teacher don’t know this. Therefore, receiving a threatening “counseling memo” about your board is pretty daunting and feels a lot like being written up. This is no way to support a brand new teacher or any teacher for that matter in the midst of the utter chaos that pervades that place.

    And as far as your statement that most here have “no interest in seeing how to help in making things better for the children”, (speaking for teachers) I will say we cared while we were there. That’s when it counted. Rosy words and polite gestures don’t count after you’ve already walked out the door. Perhaps you should stayed since you obviously care more than we do.

    As for now, all I care about are the students that I have now because this is all I have the power to do.

  31. XA2 concerned blogger permalink
    July 21, 2008 am31 7:06 am 7:06 am

    Amazing disgruntled employee – even though we both left. I can easily distinguish your vocabulary and the way you speak. You loved the students so much while you were there but never bothered to tell the principal you were leaving until the last minute. Hopefully, you’ll understand that even when you leave you would still care and love this children. You said in your own words that I should have stayed because I care more than you Again, it’s not about Ms. Smith, but the students – an investment in them

  32. XA2 concerned blogger permalink
    July 21, 2008 am31 7:06 am 7:06 am

    error – still love these children

  33. XA1 a teacher who made the best decision: to leave eximius permalink
    July 21, 2008 am31 8:45 am 8:45 am

    “ex-eximius teacher/concerned blogger” you sound like you are the same person, and very unlike the original ex-eximius teacher (the first poster).

    here’s what i have to say to you: your speech sounds exactly like one i’ve heard day in and day out and at those useless mandatory meetings on fridays.

    it sounds like Tammy!:

    so i am addressing this to tammy for i believe that it is you: please Tammy Smith, if you want to infiltrate this site to post something that makes you and your school look better than its reality, then i can’t stop you as this is a free country. However, many former eximius teachers can read right through and you need to understand: you’re just simply an incompetent, ineffective leader. Some people are just not meant to be principals and you happen to be one of them. the proof is in the fact that teachers simply do not WANT to be in your school (your attrition rate). this is a clear indication of your failed leadership.
    Perhaps you should go for some professional development, or perhaps you should consider another job that doesn’t involve children.

    You are more harmful to these children than any of the other teachers who decided to walk past the nonsense/chaos and leave your school.

    however, your posts clearly indicate that you still do not see the problem. the problem CANNOT be the 40-50 teachers and staff you have lost over the last 3 years. it is YOU.
    there is a clear solution to all this: you need to be removed.
    in addition, people are not going to let this go and move on: you cannot treat the people the way you do and think that people will simply move on: i assure you this: i will, with my whole heart, NOT recommend your school to anyone else and personally encourage new and veteran teachers to not even bother to waste their time and apply to eximius.

  34. Former Eximius Teacher permalink
    July 21, 2008 am31 8:50 am 8:50 am

    I hate it when people use the students to manipulate.

    The reality is that I as a teacher was stunted because of the chaos at Eximius. Leaving allowed me to grow as a teacher in ways I forgot possible until I left Eximius. I now teach about 10 times better than I did at Eximius. Also, I am able to stay in teaching because I feel satisfied with my work and not belittled on a daily basis.

    Part of being a truly good teacher is being an even better student. I could not learn while I was at Eximius. The chaos made me feel insecure and scared. I did not want to open up to anyone — let alone my lead instructional supports.

    I feel confident in saying that leaving Eximius allowed me to increase the quality of my teaching. I also see myself staying in teaching longer because I feel safe now — both physically and emotionally. Thus, I will have a greater impact on more kids because I left.

  35. another disgruntled employee permalink
    July 21, 2008 pm31 5:01 pm 5:01 pm

    XA2: I don’t know who you think I am and quite frankly I don’t care. You really seem more concerned with identities of individuals on this site rather than on the content of their posts for some odd reason. Hmmm….

    Let the truth spring forth here and don’t worry about which teachers are posting here. I speak the absolute truth here and will continue to do despite your attempts to intimidate me or others on this site.

    When I stated that you “cared more” than we do, I am afraid the sarcasm was lost on you if you believe that is true.

    I love teaching and I have always cared about the students I have had in front of me , Eximius students were no exception. You would have to be inhuman if you didn’t feel something for children you see and teach everyday–even more so in a small school. From my standpoint, God hasn’t made a kid bad enough to make me walk away from a job and oh yeah…a paycheck. Administrators are a different story. But I teach the kids I have in front of me, using every technique in my toolbox, no matter what issues may press.

    My problems (which were stress related) were related to the administration, EXCLUSIVELY.

    When teaching in a school creates so much psychological angst that you would rather quit than teach there, which should take precedence–concern for the kids or concern for your own health (psychological or otherwise) ? I liked the students at Eximius but I like my psychological health a little more. :)

    Oh..btw….I love my current principal and APs. They are great administrators and humanitarians. The kids are fantastic….as usual.

  36. Another Former Teacher permalink
    July 22, 2008 am31 3:45 am 3:45 am

    I am a former Eximius teacher also. I loved the students at Eximius and I did my best, day in and day out, to help them reach their potential. I truly believe they deserve much better, not just from Eximius, but from the whole system which has failed them miserably. They deserve good teachers, but the only way they’ll get them is if there’s a healthy working environment that attracts and sustains good teaching. All members of the school community deserve to be heard and respected! Teachers are people too, and it is only fair for potential employees to know what they’re getting into before it’s too late to change their mind. Throwing people in who have no clue what they’re in for is a recipe for disaster for the kids and is certain to breed resentment for all.

    The tone is set at the top. It’s almost like Ms. Smith keeps waiting for the teachers to do it, but the only one who can really set a positive tone is Ms. Smith herself, and for whatever reason, she has not been able to do so.

    But to be fair, I don’t think Ms. Smith wants her school to fail or has ulterior motives. In fact, I think she cares a lot. I just don’t think she knows how to turn it around. She is drowning and has been for a while. She clearly has little support herself. The AP and the former AP’s are/were between a rock and hard place. (And contrary to other posters, I think Ms. Breitling does what she feels is right for her students, however unpopular).

    I firmly believe that for anything to change, the problems must be named truthfully, and open dialogue must ensue. It’s really too bad that this blog is literally the only place some staff members and parents feel free to tell their truths. As one poster suggested, it can be cathartic to finally speak freely about a negative experience. However, I wish we all could have been heard when we actually could have changed things.

  37. Another Former Teacher -- again permalink
    July 22, 2008 am31 3:58 am 3:58 am

    I wanted to add that I think the big issues at Eximius are systemic issues also. It is a complicated thing to try to figure out what went so wrong. But I’m fairly certain that the way Ms. Smith treats her staff is a direct reflection on the way the DOE treats her. She cares about bulletin boards because that’s what the DOE cares about when they walk in and take a cursory glance. You ask, how can these schools throw a first-year teacher into the worst schools, watch them flounder, and then blame them? But the same can be said of the principals. How can the DOE, in all good conscience, continue to throw inexperienced leaders into the worst schools and turn a blind eye while they continue to drown? It should not be the case that “good” principals are the ones who are willing to buck the system to do what’s best for kids, while the “status quo” principals are the ones who tow the party line, often to their school’s detriment.

    Obviously there is a breakdown in the current system if the school leaders are not being held accountable for what actually goes on in their building. There should be checks and balances on power and there should be transparency in the information used to judge the schools, principals, and teachers. Under Klein and his corporate cronies, and especially in these “empowerment schools,” the balance of power has been tipped way too far and the information seems even more opaque (and therefore susceptible to manipulation) than ever. It should not be the case that incompetence, greed, or corruption, is allowed to run amok, in any school or at any level. The natural ‘check’ on power – the UFT – has not really helped either, I’m afraid to say. They have really dropped the ball when it comes to some of these small schools. This is no accident. I truly believe the small schools have become a union-busting tool and sadly it’s working.

    But let me be clear: understanding the dysfunction within the DOE is not an excuse for the abuse that happened in Eximius and in some of the other schools on the list. I am only saying that fixing the larger problem is not as easy as removing one principal. Shame on the DOE for allowing and continuing to allow these situations to occur in the first place.

    Anyhow, I have a heavy heart about my experience there, wishing I could have been more successful, but I’m not ashamed to say that I’m very glad to have moved on with my life. Eximius really did suck me dry emotionally. I definitely learned a lot from the experience, but unfortunately it was mostly survival skills in the harsh world of DOE politics, and little about the actual craft of teaching. I certainly hope, for the sake of the great kids whom I had the privilege of knowing at Eximius, that Ms. Smith and her new staff will be able to turn things around by fostering a trusting and open atmosphere — in other words, a healthy working environment — where good teachers want to be — so that the kids can actually get the education they deserve.


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