Gadsden Teacher of the Year not recommended to return

Gadsden Teacher of the Year not recommended to return
Gadsden Teacher of the Year not recommended to return
Posted at 6:38 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-16 18:38:00-04

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - As the school year winds down, teachers in Gadsden County are learning whether or not they'll be recommended to return in the fall.

"I'm surprised, because I've been teaching for a long period of time," said Judith Mandela, Math Teacher at Shanks Middle School.

Mandela has taught math at Shanks Middle School for 12 years. She was named the district's 2018 Teacher of the Year, but it's likely she won't be back at Shanks.

A letter from the principal stated she wouldn't be recommended for reappointment.

"Every time someone is in my classroom, I'm always doing what I'm supposed to be doing, so I guess there are other factors," said Mandela.

Principal Major Willie Jackson wouldn't go into detail about the evaluation, but told WTXL off-camera Mandela failed to make adjustments following weekly reports.

He also said while she had "high skills," she had a "low will." That's news to Mandela.

"In terms of will and wanting the students to be successful and wanting the school to be successful and doing everything in my power for the students in my classroom, I think he's way off base," said Mandela.

Mandela said this issue isn't about her and it's much bigger than here at Shanks. She said principals across the district need to communicate more regularly with their teachers, especially the new ones, to make sure they're on the right track to help their students in the best way possible.

"If we're talking about recruiting and retaining teachers and you're letting brand-new teachers go with an evaluation that has not been done correctly, that's a bigger issue," said Mandela.

Mandela said the principal failed to have conferences with teachers about issues with their evaluations, but Jackson said he had weekly meetings.

"This is about the purpose and the process, and the process has not been followed," said Mandela.

The principal said 89 percent of the teachers at Shanks have been recommended to return.

The final decision is up to the superintendent, who can determine if teachers stay or get reassigned.