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[Susan notes: I love Sharon's determination to turn a negative into a positive. We can hope her constructive suggestions for ways her principal could be a positive model--instead of demeaning herself and her position by taking a pie on the face or sitting on the roof--turn things around.]

Submitted to personal communication but not published

To the editor

Dear Susan,

Thank you for you viewpoint on principals doing antics as incentives. I found your site as I was researching articles to support my fundamental belief that this increasingly popular behavior is wrong.

My discomfort started this week when my principal set up a series of stunts to motivate students to turn in their PTA memberships. These stunts included wearing her clothes backwards, getting hit in the face with cream pies and doing her work on the roof for one day. In my opinion these are not stunts -- they are acts of public humiliation. I find the image of our educational leader being reduced to a clown embarrassing and ultimately irresponsible. As a special education teacher who has worked tirelessly to fine tune appropriate behavior in my students, I feel as though they are receiving confusing messages from the person I have also tirelessly taught them to respect.

I plan to tell my principal how I feel and I hope she will see that technically I am supporting her dignity. I will suggest some alternative activities for future incentives. Since the purpose of these stunts is to engage students in a spirit of fun and unity, why not have the principal agree to teach a dynamic lesson in every classroom which would include art and/or science?

Another possibility would be for her to switch jobs with the custodian, librarian or cafeteria worker for a portion of the day, which would have the added benefit of showcasing these jobs as equally important and vital for running a school. A true principal would not shy away from the opportunity to interact with students in the same hands-on way her staff does each and every day. Wouldn't this be a wonderful chance for her to model herself as the educational leader she is supposed to be?

I will bookmark your website because I like what you stand for. Thank you for providing an arena for me to vent!


Sharon in San Diego


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