At the End of a Career

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I would like you to meet John Malin, you should know him if you don’t already.  He has taught here at Monte Vista for 34 years, and had a couple more left in him, at least.  His boys went to school here while he taught here, which is one of the great perks of teaching he would tell you; to be there in the day and see the unfolding of the lives of your children.  There are many, many people who seek him out, to talk to him.

Mr. Malin is retiring this year, he told me as he pointed to pile of papers referring to our evaluation system.  “This,” he said, flapping the papers, “has nothing to do with teaching students.”  Each year since the No Child Left Behind act, people with no education experience have tried to insert themselves into the classroom.  Their incompetence during the Bush years made them unthreatening, but they are getting better at coming between the teacher and student.

John is leaving after much success, but is facing the latest evaluation system by which administrators have all been asked to ensure that ten to twenty percent of their staff are “minimally effective” or less.  Not by the virtue of their teaching skills, but by just playing the bell curve.   Teachers who are at schools that are failing will themselves be ranked as failing.  Administrators are asked not to allow too many of their staff be “exemplary”, and those who do will themselves be ranked low.

We will be labeled ineffective because our schools were, and fulfill the political agenda of these people.  In keeping up with the paper dragon they will have us feed, we will actually become ineffective.

But back to John.  You will remember him, because he is a good teacher.  He is going away.  Good teachers are going away because we are gearing the whole system to the lowest common denominator.  Yes, we need to evaluate, support, and intervene with teachers who need to find their way, but to intervene with the whole of education is an incredible waste of resources.

Once we have driven John and all the others like him away, we will have more long term substitutes, a position requiring less expertise, instead of people who have committed to the profession.  What then? That critical question is absent from this process:  what then?

Goodbye John Malin.  Thank you for your incredible career, and the chance I too, had to learn from you.  Thanks for your career-long investment into our community.  The true community is grateful for your incredible service, and these political climbers, Hanna Skandera and Susana Martinez, who have inserted themselves into your good work, have no idea what they are doing.  You deserve the fanfare that these politicians enjoy, but I know you wouldn’t want it anyway.  On behalf of our community, I apologize that somehow these strangers have gotten into our school, and changed your plans, and taken the experience of the students in the years you would have stayed.  It makes me sad for those students, for our staff, and for myself.

Your awesome ‘stache is in its glory, the chairs are up on the table,  the room is waiting to be vacuumed,  and this May, the door will close on your most excellent career.

29 Comments

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29 responses to “At the End of a Career

  1. Neil Meharg

    Thank you for your years in the classroom. The student lives you touched will/has made a difference. I am retiring after 26 years in the classroom this May.

  2. julie crocker

    I have had the PRIVILEGE of working in the classroom next to John Malin for the last 18 years. I was honored to be able to teach both of his sons when they went to MVES. I have enjoyed countless incredible conversations with John over the years as we stood in the hallway between our two rooms. I have witnessed the love classrooms full of children have for him year after year. I have trusted one of my own children to him when they were in 3rd grade. I have seen him weather one educational trend after another with a smile and a shake of the head. He always said as long as he loved what he was doing, he would keep teaching – and he stayed. But….. it all caught up to him this year. He told me he is sad because he wanted to go out “on his own terms” – not forced out as he feels is happening. He wanted to enjoy his last year – and choose when that would be. But, PED has assured that this kind, warm, caring, dedicated, loving, veteran teacher is not given that courtesy. The affect he has had on the lives of hundreds of children and staff is immeasurable. I will miss my friend terribly. One more unnecessary loss to what USED TO BE an honorable PROFESSION. Goodbye John.

  3. Vincent

    It would be helpful if you would source your claims.

  4. Dinah Pierotti

    John was one of my daughter’s favorite teachers in Elementary school. Our state’s PED and governor think they know a better system than a veteran teacher with 30+ years of expertise? I don’t think so! He will be sorely missed by the new and old teachers at Monte Vista Elementary and always remembered by his former students.

  5. John was a wonderful motivator for all of APS–practically inventing jogging before school as a path to excellence. My grandson flourished under John’s tutelage. Too bad about NCLB–it is hideous and has driven the best teachers into earlier retirement. However, teachers have always been resilient and innovative. Be sure to vote the idjits out who think non-educators should police teahers’ policies. Teaching is a fine art–a gift, a vocation, and a blessing to anyone lucky enough to have the job. Malin makes us all proud to be educators.

  6. Amy Beeder

    My oldest daughter, at the end of last year, had the highest GPA at her High School. She is a very successful student: a smart kid who also works hard. But in first and second grade, she didn’t like school and her teachers were telling me she “wasn’t academic.” The definitive turning point in her education was third grade with John Malin. Why? Because he liked her: he appreciated her positive attitude and her strong opinions and her tendency to stand up for her views (which her kindergarten teacher deemed “unladylike”). When he told her she was a good student she became one. My youngest daughter was also his student; he helped her learn to speak up in class and have more confidence. I cannot thank John enough for his contribution to my daughters’ education. He is a teacher who holds his students to high standards but truly appreciates them, each one, as individuals.

  7. Tye Coleman

    Thanks john for putting up with me

  8. I don’t even know how to begin to say “goodbye” to john. i cannot even imagine monte vista without him. i kept tearing up as I read jeff’s post and everyone’s comments….
    I am so angry in so many ways at NCLB and NM PED – it’s been building and building in insanity – I can’t be mad at John. I would leave now, too if I could financially manage it. But I am so sad at the prospect of Monte Vista without John. So sad that people who have no freakin’ idea about education are making such incredibly poor decisions. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t be happening. I don’t think any of us thought it would really get this bad. But it is. And now, it’s worse – because we are losing John.

  9. Maggie Haynes

    I was lucky enough to have john as my third grade teacher, I will never forget him. Even though he smashed our candy with a hammer we all loved him and he was a great teacher. Good luck john.

  10. Not that you’ll remember me, but you were at Monte Vista when I student-taught in George Winchell’s class. Wow. Good for you, and thank you for all your years of service to kids and to society. May you thrive now in new ways.

  11. Dear John, I wasn’t in your class (I was down the hall in Joan LaMourie’s class) but many of my friends were and I know what a great impact you had on their lives and what high esteem they hold you in. I wasn’t even in your class but I still benefited from you teaching my friends and being at Monte Vista when I was a student there. I know that our community has continued to benefit from all the students who were lucky enough to have you as their teacher over the years. Thank You!
    Hugh Steele
    Monte Vista ’86
    Albuquerque High School ’93
    UNM ’99

  12. Anne Romig

    John is/was one of the top teachers at Monte Vista. He taught a love of learning and many of his students have gone on to the best colleges in the country. APS should try to keep him as long as possible because he inspires children to succeed and to feel confidence in their own individuality. I would be hard pressed to believe there is a better third grade teacher in all of APS. Thanks for all you have done for all of us, John, whose children were lucky enough to get you as a teacher. You have helped build a community of caring citizens.

  13. Thank you for your service. I know my child, Maggie Haynes, adored you, as did many other students. Good luck and blessings.

  14. Helen Woods Madrid , 1970's proud alumni

    So sorry for our communities loss with your retirement! You were the teacher of many of our family members, all of which adored and LEARNED in you classes. Shame on New Mexico for ALLOWING this loss. Best of luck and many THANKS for your years at Monte Vista…..go Penguins!

  15. Thank you John! I was in your 4th grade class in 1986 and I regard you as one of the greatest teachers I have ever had, and you greatly shaped the person I am today. Thank you for your many years of service.

  16. Maryb

    I have heard about you for years- so sad to hear that we are losing another great teacher to this scheme that evaluates teachers using false and misleading information. So-long and vaya con Dios, Mr. Malin!

  17. Ilsa Garduno

    My son loved his year with John Malin. He still talks about lessons learned in his class. Thank You John.

  18. GR

    I would have liked to have read more about him and less about your opinions. You had a wonderful opportunity to feature a teacher who appears to be beloved but you let your own words and thoughts get in the way. Let him tell his story.

    • Jeff

      Mr. Malin and I found it interesting that you assume these are not his opinions. Perhaps it is your own filter that is taking away from your enjoyment of this story.

    • Aleksei Malin

      As the son of the subject of this story, i can definitively say that the author’s opinions perfectly reflect the opinions of John Malin. I appreciate your comment but I believe you are incorrect in assuming that the author “let his own words and thoughts get in the way” of anything. My dad is an incredible teacher who taught many of my great friends and who was forced out by ridiculous policies implemented by bureaucrats who would have benefited by being taught by my father or the author of this article.

  19. I had John for third grade in 1986. He said a few things to me back then which I still carry around, that still help me out when times are hard. I can honestly say that he changed my life for the better. Happy trails, good sir. Thank you.

  20. LOVE YOU JOHN!!!! Your positive contribution to the world, to the community, to me and to my family lives on through my children-and will live on for generations to come through the lives that you touched. Because of the standards you set in my life, I have demanded higher standards for the education of my 3 children. Because of the standard of health that you set in your classroom, the standard of health in my household is higher than it would have been without you in my life. Because of the time you spent reading with us in your classroom, the love of reading and Roald Dahl has been passed on to my children. The first chapter book my 1st grade son tackled on his own was James and the Giant Peach. Because of you it was on my bookshelf waiting for little hands to open and explore. I cannot tell you how many times I reference my experiences in your classroom as to how I think classrooms and the school environment should be improved today. I wish for you only open doors from here on out. Please carry with you the spirit of US, all whom you have touched in such a profound way throughout your career as a teacher, mentor, friend. Good luck on your journey-I know we will run into each other sometime again in this life!

  21. Rachelle Rochelle

    Hi!
    So I was googling around to try and find contact info for John yesterday and came across this blog – I had him back in 3rd/4th grade in the late 80’s (I think maybe 89/90?) and still talk about that class to this day! My mom (Mona) would have the class over every year to hang and play in our backyard – it became somewhat of a tradition – and my brother Jon had him down the road as well. I actually posted this blog to Facebook and tagged all the people that I could remember being in my class. HUGE response. We would actually like to send a little something John’s way. Any chance we can get an address? I think you have my email since I have to post it when writing a comment. Much more to say, but will leave you with this – John, you made a HUGE impact on so many lives, you will never even know. The outpouring of love on the post I put up was pretty awesome. If I wasn’t living in NYC, I would get my butt back to ABQ and throw you a retirement party… that of course would involve running around the playground!!

  22. Eagle Boy Martinez Scildt

    Well that sucks. Good luck John you’re awsome.

  23. Jeff

    The retirement party for John Malin and Sandra Dexter will be Wednesday May 21st, from 1 to 3 pm in the Library of Monte Vista, please come if you would like to be a part!

  24. Pingback: To Bill and Melinda Gates | by Jeff Tuttle

  25. Robin Chavez

    John was my favorite teacher of all time. I was in his 3rd grade class in 1986 and have never forgotten him. He changed me forever as well. Much love sir.

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