Sabotaged – but Why?

by Robyn Terrell Widmer '00

I recently had an unfortunate experience with another woman at work, who happened to be my boss. As a probationary teacher, my job was less than secure. The principal of my school, a woman, seemed to have it in for me from the start, though I’m still not sure why. She was constantly reprimanding me for not meeting expectations that were communicated to me after the fact. Although there was another new teacher, who happened to be male, she focused her attention on me, even when the other new teacher made the exact same “mistakes.”

I accepted her criticism and made every change that she suggested. However, her attention finally escalated to what qualified as harassment, according to my union representative. When I consulted the union president, she did not support me at all. She basically told me that if I chose to stand up for myself and have the union call her on her behavior, I would likely not be offered a contract for the next year. I finally decided that I had to maintain my self-respect, and that I did not deserve to be treated this way. I asked the union president to speak with my principal. She immediately backed off, but I was informed a week later that I would not be offered a job for the next year.

If only that were the end of it. I recently found out that she was deliberately sabotaging my efforts to find a new job. After several excellent interviews where I was told that I was wanted for the job, I never heard from the school districts again. After a little digging, I found out it was because of what the principal said when they called her after the interviews.

Luckily, I found another job—I guess they didn’t call her—and I love it. I am still glad that I made the choice to stand up for myself. I know that someone else might have made a different choice and kept the job, but, for me, it was more important to keep my sense of self-worth.