California Educator

September 09

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Coping with reassignment, closure and layoffs Stephanie Cobb knows what it’s like to be the new kid on the block, even though she’s been teaching in the Fair- field-Suisun Unified School District for nearly two decades. After 16 years at one school, she was involuntarily transferred to a different school in 2007. At first, she felt like a stranger in a strange land. “Everything changed for me. I went from teaching first grade to second grade. I had to learn a new curriculum and get to know a new staff, and was suddenly in a huge school. There were so many new faces, it took me a couple of months to learn everyone’s name.” Being told to change schools is becom- The logistics of having to move can be overwhelming. Cobb called upon those who worked at her former school, retired teachers and even the substitute teacher who had filled in for her in the past. Her friends helped her to pack, unpack and get organized, which eased some of the burden for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified “To make it work, you have to be flex- “What you did at your last site may be totally different than what you do at your present site — you have to be flexible.” Teachers Association (F-SUTA) member. It took some time, but eventually ing more commonplace, and many teach- ers throughout the state are experiencing similar trauma this fall as budget cuts re- sult in school closure. Cobb began to feel at home in her new school. Many teachers went out of their way to welcome her. She found that the more questions she asked, the more help- ful they were. ible,” she advises. “What you did at your last site may be totally different than what you do at your present site. There are different people and a different rou- tine. And being new, you go through a ‘testing period.’ But if you’re positive, other people are likely to be positive with you.” A set t lem en t Stephanie Cobb, Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association reached last fal l , which was sparked by union activity, allowed 41 F-SUTA teachers who were involuntarily trans- ferred under a form of reconstitution to return to their old school sites. However, Cobb is staying put. “It has worked out well for me,” she says. “Sometimes when you get moved, you get moved to a better situation.” Colleen Dunaway has survived the pain of school closure more than once in the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District, which has declining enrollment. One school closed seven years ago and anoth- er in 2007-08. Presently she is working at John Reed Elementary School, and en- joys working there. “I guess you could say those in our district are pioneers in California when it comes to school closures,” says Dun- away, a member of the Rohnert Park- Cotati Educators Association (RPCEA). “There was no protocol on how it was supposed to happen. Nobody knew what to do or say. It was very hard emotional- ly, but it was also hard physically. Teach- ers had to empty out their own cupboards and rooms of supplies.” LEFT: Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association member Stephanie Cobb with her second-grade class. 10 California Educator | september 2009

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