Faculty Turnover Turns Heads: We Deserve to Know

Western Reserve Academy is a place of tough goodbyes. It is no secret that a bad mistake can have someone on a flight home before there’s even time for proper goodbyes to be had. One can never know if the student next to her in class, or even her teacher for that matter, will still be there the next day. Yet the people of Reserve tout our tightly knit “community” to all manners of visitors and prospective families. But frankly, I have not experienced this atmosphere to the extent of which it was advertised to me.

I have had four advisors in just as many years. Due to high faculty turnover, I am not alone in this experience, and there are students who have lost just as many or even more advisors. I have watched the entire set of Spanish teachers change one after another, and I even had three different Spanish teachers my sophomore year. All three of my past varsity softball coaches are gone.

Each time a teacher, or even a student for that matter, disappears, a flurry of rumours is left in their absence. Wild stories including the CIA, felony charges, and international politics arise in order to fill the gaps left in our understanding when a part of our lives is suddenly no longer there. The issue of faculty turnover has been made into somewhat of a taboo at Reserve. The crucial element of personal confidentiality only fuels the fervor with which students pursue the truth about their missing instructors.

Students are viscerally reprimanded for using the terms “fired” and “kicked out” when referring to former faculty and students. Some teachers are eager to swoop in and condescendingly instruct any offending student to employ sugarcoated phrases, such as “let go” or “left of his own accord” or “asked to leave.” Sudden departures are unaddressed by the upper echelons of our microcosm; out-of-touch administrators wearing rose-tinted glasses who insist that all is fine.

One would imagine that when multiple longtime members of the community are dismissed, some public recognition or thank you for their years of service would be given, but that is simply not the way that Reserve operates. Instead, our Gmail Inbox sits wondering what happened to the steady flow of emails from Mrs. Jane Spencer. Whichever way one slices it, this “community” is capable of shoving anyone’s past under the rug—to bury all news that offers a different narrative than the one offered. Instead we need to engage in conversation. The Reserve Record believes that this is a worrying symptom.

-Makena Hayes ’17

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