Sally Vasquez Case Study

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Ms. Vasquez was the newest member of the first grade team at Westside Elementary School. She, along with three other teachers, made up the first grade teaching staff. Three years before Sally’s employment began, the first grade staff “adopted academic progress and social development criteria for determining whether students should be retained in grade” (Kowalski, pg. 59). While Sally was uncomfortable with retaining students, she was not yet confident enough in her position to challenge the veteran teachers. During her schooling, “Sally had been told that the negative aspects of retaining students far outweighed the benefits-a contention that was supported by several research articles she was required to read” (Kowalski, pg. 59). Ms. Vasquez…show more content…
Pelfrey to think differently and look at the issue from a different lens. The other team members had been teaching in the school for at least 11 years. Certainly pedagogical theories had changed since the other teachers were earning their certifications, but they were unwilling to consider any other avenue. Ultimately, Mrs. Pelfrey told Sally that she should do what she was asked in order to demonstrate her ability to collaborate with other staff members. Failure to do so would put Mrs. Pelfrey in an uncomfortable position. As she told Sally, “[Y]ou should know that this issue could be detrimental for you. I will have to weigh the consequences of this conflict before I complete your annual performance evaluation” (Kowalski, pg. 61). Fearing for her job, Ms. Vasquez requested a meeting with the district superintendent, Dr. Frank Jobet. He listened and informed Sally that he would follow up with the principal. Upon hearing from Dr. Jonet, Mrs. Pelfrey became agitated and terse. She went so far as to tell Sally, “Maybe the other teachers were right about you. I tried to advise you so that you could be successful at this school. But apparently, you have your own agenda” (Kowalski, pg. 61). She went on to tell Sally that she could have been more cooperative and that she was lucky she wasn’t going to be recommended for dismissal. However, Mrs. Pelfrey threatened that she could recommend a transfer to…show more content…
As leaders, it will be incumbent upon us to ensure these disagreements are handled fairly and equitably and to the benefit of all parties involved. We must weigh the evidence carefully, consider all options, and make the decision that is in the best interest of the school community. Sometimes, our choices may not be popular, but if they are made with integrity and purpose, we can get buy-in from all stakeholders. Staff members need to know that their concerns will be acknowledged, validated, and addressed. They want and need to be heard and they need to feel like they can trust their administrators. According to Kouzes and Posner, “Trust is the most fundamental element of a winning team” (2007, pg. 225). Without trust, a leader cannot be successful. Additionally, strong leaders must create a culture that encourages professional growth and allows staff to ask questions and challenge the process. Unfortunately, for Sally Vasquez, this was not the kind of environment in which she worked. Instead of serving as a trusted mediator and assisting Sally with her concerns, Mrs. Pelfrey further exacerbated them. She clearly took sides with the other teachers, leaving Sally to fear for her
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