The other side of the coin

Stressed man

Here’s a nice, long, Halloween horror story for teachers, directors, and schools. I won’t divulge a full name because it would be professionally and morally unconscionable for me to sabotage any person’s potential for future repentance, which is ironic, for this individual posted a libellous web page in order to suck the blood from both a school and myself, simply because he was fired(by yours truly). He leaves no name or email for others to reference or seek verification, unfortunately.

I hired this person because he had a decent resume with one year’s experience with children in Korea, sound references, and from his phone interview he seemed A-OK. But immediately upon arriving, he began accusing the owners, without due cause, of deceitfulness. He claimed in a ‘post-termination’ website, created specifically to discredit the school (ref., that he was repeatedly “lied to” and “tricked” yet with no specifics. He claimed that the school taxed his airfare reimbursement. He didn’t even pay for the ticket, so this is bogus. However, if airfare is reimbursed, according to “new” Taiwanese law, it’s considered monies paid under salary and liable to six percent taxation. Not mentioned in original recruitment letter because I didn’t even know about it at the time. Deceit? Far from it.

Furthermore, the school actually paid for his airfare up front, but because he was let go after only three weeks, the owners had to “eat” the cost. His complaints in this regard are absurd and simply motivated out of vengeance.

He claims that his return ticket was “held for ransom” (no further details, of course). How this could be is a mystery, considering the school wished nothing more than for him to LEAVE! THE SCHOOL PAID FOR THE TICKET!!!

Lousy apartment? Not great, not bad. T.V., DVD, furnished. He didn’t like the linen. BRING YOUR OWN!!! It’s not the Hyatt. The school will not provide a maid service. If the bathroom is mouldy, it’s because the resident teachers don’t tend to it. Blaming such trifles on the school is petty.

Overtime pay. He says none. Blatant lie. Any hours taught are paid. No question.

He claims he had to pay for his ARC. This is another blatant lie. The school paid for his ARC and still holds the receipt to prove it. The school pays for apartment, airfare (94%), 80% medical and dental. WOW! Appreciated? No! Every possible aspect of the school is attacked by this individual!

This person took umbrage at the fact that the teacher assistants, some of whom have been doing their job for over six years, would make recommendations about his teaching method! “Beware ALL the teaching assistants!?” he cries. Basically: “Beware EVERYONE connected with the school!”

His own students actually made formal complaints to the administration, claiming they were bored, unchallenged, and treated like morons.

During his brief tenure as a teacher, he continued to vociferously berate the owners of the school, without just cause, in front of both teachers and students alike. On more than one occasion it was deduced that he had fully misunderstood the owners, who were actually trying to assist and make things easier for him! WOW, go figure! Yet he offered no apologies for his quick finger-pointing and slanderous accusations.

These events(which occurred in the short space of two weeks) could not prompt me to fire him. Why?

–Because we all have preferences, faults, and peccadilloes.
–We all make mistakes or become rude at times.
–We all have misunderstandings about foreign cultures that can be remedied through time, counsel, or mediation.

But when this individual openly stated to me (and quite rudely) that he disagreed with the curriculum and therefore “refused to teach it,” there was a problem.

When this individual stated to me, in writing, that he felt developing lesson plans for a 30-minute conversation class or typing up a five-question writing worksheet every Monday and Wednesday was a “waste of his time as a teacher,” and that I was a “fool to expect him to put in the effort,” it became evident that he was indeed no teacher.

The school I work for has a HUGE database of reading and writing worksheets and conversation lesson plans. He was advised to reference these. But he was also advised that for the first couple months, he was expected to create “some” of his own to help him adapt and grow as a skilled teacher.

His gripe in his post: “I spent countless hours developing materials because the school has none!?” Horse hockey!!! He didn’t develop ANY worksheets or put ANY effort into lesson planning. It was obvious and well observed. And this is one of the main reasons he was fired . . . by me!

Upon being informed that his contract was terminated, he literally begged to stay on with the school. When he was refused, he threatened to discredit the school and “get ME and the school back.”

Well, Viola. He’s good to his word. He was able to get his libel published on several prominent ESL websites as well as dedicating an entire web-page in spiteful regard to Carden school.

Do I deny that our teacher’s sometimes have valid gripes about the school? Certainly not. But voice them to the appropriate ears. Bring them to the director as well as to the owners. Such problems can be worked out. Find common ground. It’s not hard with mature communication and mutual respect. After all, I’m a teacher and a westerner too. I understand such issues and will bend over backwards to help new or disgruntled teachers under my direction. Screaming “foul” unjustly to other teachers and in front of students is unforgivable.

He had an agenda and now his libel is available to anyone who references “Carden School” on Yahoo or any other search engine. What legal recourse? Little to none. Does it hurt the school? You better believe it. It’s hard to get people to apply here.

What’s my mistake? I’m old-school who failed to realize the negative potential of the Internet and the possibility that a so-called educated ESL teacher could have such limited integrity (how many teachers simply use a TESOL certification to globetrot and continue the adventure with little heed to actually “teaching”)?

I also assumed ESL review boards would pay a bit more heed to the nature of the gripe and discern the snipe, seeking corroboration from disgruntled employees rather than the intriguing sting of a single poison pen?

All I can say is: Hark ye directors and schools . . . the Internet is a dangerous weapon for those countless people who would use it as such. Watch out whom you hire and “how” you fire. There’s a lot of human trash in the world that care little about justice and integrity. Mere possession of a degree or teaching credentials is meaningless in regard to character.

Richard Kurtz
Dir. Carden School

PS: Carden American School welcomes any and all calls (02-2673-7788) and emails to teachers past and present should you wish to get the “skinny” on the school and how it’s run. Here are a few:

Michael: [email protected]
Anika: [email protected]
Annette: [email protected]
Annabel: [email protected]
Paul: [email protected]
Daniel: [email protected]

by Richard Kurtz

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