While I am currently on my sixth principal, I am only working on my fourth English department head. The current one is the best since the first one, way back in the day, but it’s only her second year here, so she’s still learning what the junior high animal is all about.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t ever assumed the mantle of “English Department Head” in my 23 years here, I can only say this:


Why would I want to have to…

  • Go to nine extra meetings? (Department heads are part of our Management Team.)
  • Schedule, attend (really?) and run monthly (at least) meetings of my own?
  • Keep track of a budget and office supplies?
  • Deal with both district AND local management regularly?
  • Watch a flood of e-mails wash over me from everybody and his mom… that I actually have to answer?
  • Answer real, live phone calls? (shudder)
  • Distribute paperwork and edicts from on high and try to enforce them?
  • Somehow herd the cats that English teachers are?

All this for an extra 1500 dollah per year? Again I say:

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! The cost/benefit analysis doesn’t pencil out.

However, lucky for me, I talked D$ (pronounced Dee Money) into taking the job when it opened up this year.

“You can either find out about everything a week after it’s due and never have any whiteboard pens and have district management grumble about us all the time, or you can take the job your own bad self and do it properly.”

She eventually saw things my way, and things have run more smoothly than they have in years.

Anyway, today she had morning prison yard duty in the seventh grade quad. (Our 7th and 8th graders sort of self segregate into the separate quads where their lockers are clustered.) Since she has all eighth grade classes this year, and she doesn’t yet have the history/rep that I have–even kids that don’t have me know who I am–she was a little frustrated trying to ride herd on all the seventh graders who don’t know her from Eve.

“I could lend you one of my sticks.”

“Actually, that’s what one of the kids told me this morning. She said, ‘You need a stick like Mr. Coward.'”

“Smart girl.”

“I told her that this school probably only has room for one Mr. Coward.”

Smart girl. That’s why she’s department head.