Friday, October 10, 2008

Shepherd Elementary loses its principal

It looks like DCPS has fired Shepherd Elementary's recently hired Principal Dr. Galeet BenZion. Here's an email she sent to the Shepherd ListServ this afternoon:
My Dear Parents,

You have heard by now, that the Shepherd school community has lost its principal today.

According to the Chancellor I am not the right fit to this community and it is best for the children that I am replaced.

I feel as if the flower has just began to bloom and was just stepped on.

It has been a privilege to get to know each of you. You are an amazing community and I applaud your commitment to high quality education in the district. I am truly sorry that I have disappointed you.

With much love and commitment,

Galeet BenZion
Jean Hoff, (Shepherd parent of Carolyn (pre-K) and Gretchen (1)) who tipped me off to the story has a brief profile of BenZion and her tenure:

Appointed by Rhee after a panel (parents, teachers, community members) interviewed 5 candidates in May or June of 2008. Started her job on July 1. Worked hard. Loved by children, parents, teachers (we can be a tough bunch and had 3 principals in the previous year after the permanent resigned, 2 or 3 interims. . . .)

She was willing to say that it was wrong to start the school year without a budget. She fought hard to get the funding for language teachers (French and Spanish) that had been promised to Shepherd along with our identification as an IB school. She has creative and great ideas. High standards and goals. Perhaps most impressive, she got the registration and student attendance up at the school. Downtown expected us to have 320 students, we at one point were as high as 370, now down to around 350, but quite a few families left when we had 3 full kindergarten classes and
downtown threatened to take back one of the K teachers (that's a story....)

Rhee's office told me on a phone call that she would be attending a meeting on Wed the 16th. When I pointed out that they must mean either Wed the 15th or Thurs the 16th, the person (202-442-5885) said the 16th at 6:30 pm, but another parent has been told the 15th.


Anonymous said...

She was not loved by all. Most teachers found her very hard to work with, and she made little if any connection with the children, who are unlikely to miss her at all (or even notice she's gone).

Anonymous said...

Want to learn more?
Just ask any Hill Preschool teacher or 99% of the parents about BenZion . . . Ask about BenZion's last day at the Hill Preschool. Ask about the number of licensing fines the school received under BenZion's watch. Ask about the number days that BenZion was actually at work. I understand that there are some that think Rhee is being too tough - so be it - but I would not hang my hat on BenZion as an example. If anything it indicates that Rhee has courage and strong leadership to correct her mistake.

Anonymous said...

How many other jobs was she fired from? And is shutting the parents out of the school really in the best interest of our children?!She was a mistake from the beginning (parents didn't support her as the selection) and at least we didn't have to go thru an entire year of her.

JustV said...

I was not fond of this principal. This is my son's first year at Shepherd. I had at least two meeting with the principal regarding my child's teacher and language assignment. We were not given the option to choose which language my son would take. When I learned that he had been assigned to the French track, I spoke to Dr. Ben Zion about switching him to the Spanish track. During our first meeting, she seemed very supportive and encouraged me to speak with my son and my spouse regarding the language selection before I made my final decision. When I returned to the office to formally request the switch, she denied my request and intimated that I did not know what was best for my son. I have heard similar stories from at least 2 other parents. I think that people have favorable impressions of her if they did not have to meet with her regarding an issue with the school and/or a particular teacher. For those who have, they found her to be condescending and dismissive of their concerns. There were also various issues about limiting parents access to the grounds.
For those who have not had to meet with her, I can understand that the dismissal seems abrupt and inconsiderate. But, from my understanding, several parents have complained about the treatment that they received when meeting with her.

Anonymous said...

Although my child did not attend Shepherd, my husband and I were in talks to transfer my daughter. The initial meeting went well and the second meeting (upon obseerving the classroom) she acted like she had never laid eyes on me let alone had a previous meeting. She was abrasive in her approach and I was not impressed enough to follow through with the transfer. Maybe this is in fact a good thing for your children and students. I will you all the best!