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The Foreword

The Student News Site of Allderdice High School

The Foreword

Allderdice Makes Top Ten List for Highest Teacher Absence Rate in the Country

Allderdice Makes Top Ten List for Highest Teacher Absence Rate in the Country

A few days ago, the Association of Secondary Schooling in the United States ranked Allderdice High School among one of the top schools in its most prestigious category: teacher absence rates. Achieving a ninth-place spot, Allderdice was able to reach a staggering 82.7% teacher absence rate for the first semester of the 2023-24 academic year. 

Speaking about this incredible achievement, principal James McBigBoy told the Foreword, “We’ve been working towards this for a while, and although I knew we could do it, I’m so glad that we delivered.” McBigBoy told the Foreword that one of his first initiatives when taking up the position of principal 54 years ago was to work on the teacher absence rate. “It was somewhere around eight or nine percent when I started, and I just knew that we could do better, that we had to do better.

A big way McBigBoy said that he was able to really start increasing teacher absences was to start with tardies. “You have to start somewhere, so I really pushed for tardies at first,” McCoy says introducing new policies like mandated bag checking was critical. “Mandated bag checking was a big one. I mean, if I had to check the students’ bags when I came in on time, you’d never see me in the building before lunch.” Despite progress from programs like this one, McBigBoy said staying optimistic was not always easy. “It was really hard at times. I just had to keep reminding myself: baby steps, baby steps.”

But McBigBoy wasn’t the only one pushing for higher teacher absence rates. Several teachers claim they had been working on raising the rate well before the new policies, but a lack of coordination made things tricky. “I’ve been doing this for years,” said one history teacher, “That’s why I was ecstatic when McBigBoy started making it a more official thing.” In our interview, McBigBoy thanked these teachers profusely for their support.

“I couldn’t have done it without them. The experience they have at not showing up for their job is incredible, and they taught me so much. 

For some teachers it was a new experience, but most caught on quickly. “I still remember thinking that it was important to come to work,” one gym teacher says, “I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve changed a lot since then.” Despite their slow start, that teacher now has one of the highest absence rates in the school, with full weeks of missed school this past semester. They said, “I think I’ve come a long way. I used to come to school daily, now I can’t even imagine coming to school for more than a week or two a quarter.”

Some teachers told us that increasing their number of absences was all about finding the right motivation. “I really do it for the students,” one language teacher told us, “When I found out that they were way happier when I wasn’t there, I realized the best thing I could do for them was not show up.”

“It’s all about student performance for me,” said a math teacher “after missing a couple of days early on, I realized that my students seemed to get way more done on days where I wasn’t in class.” When asked why she thought this was, she said, “My guess is as good as my daughter’s, and the stories I could tell you about her…”

With teacher absences up, surveys of the student body show that the student sentiment is at an all-time high. Generally, students are claiming to be feeling happier, healthier, and in better overall moods. One junior told the Foreword “It’s incredible. The building is just so much nicer of a place now.”

In an interview with a senior, the student said “I just feel so productive now. Without teachers, I can just focus on my work instead of listening to another thirty-minute rant about how behind the curriculum we are.”

In addition to getting their work done, the Backword has observed several other activities students have taken to with their new freedom. Several book clubs have popped up around the school, and some students have even started a club dedicated to cleaning up the school.

When asked if he thinks that Allderdice will be able to keep its spot in the top ten, McBigBoy sounded confident. “Trust me, although we’re definitely celebrating this victory, we’re far from done. There are still a lot of things we can do to get our teacher absence rate even higher and more consistent.” Although he acknowledged the high levels of competition for spots in the top ten, McBigBoy urged Allderdice families to stay optimistic. “We’ve already put in a lot of work, and I can’t wait to show everyone what we at Allderdice can do.”



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    ElApr 2, 2024 at 5:05 am

    Am I the only one confused?

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