Rejected Not Dejected

My superintendent sat me down in his office on Wednesday and told me the news that I was not going to be hired for the Assistant Principal position in my district. I believe his exact quote was, “we are going in another direction”. The world slowed down and my heart dropped. His reasoning was I was weak in the area of curriculum. My defenses shot up immediately. My head was screaming that was knowledge! Any dummy can learn curriculum! You’re missing out on the fact that I am a leader! My heart told me in an Eeyore-like way that I was being rejected as a person. (I get tremendous self-worth from my job. Whether this is positive or negative is immaterial in this blog. It just is what it is.) I was not good enough to help lead the school. I put on the brave face of thanking him for the opportunity continued a conversation that seems hazy at best and walked out of the office dejected.

Thoughts swirled around my head. How could he not notice what a great leader I am? I have great relationships with the students, staff, board members, and parents. What more could he want? Why wasn’t I good enough? The worst part was that I had to teach a kindergarten class ten minutes later.

The class came and guess what, the kids were smiling. They were laughing and having a great time. They didn’t know how sad and depressed I was. As I think about on all the most difficult times in my life children always seemed to make them better. Most are ignorant of the heartache adults’ encounter in life. They just want to know are we going to do something fun today? This cheered me up a little bit.

I then had to attend a meeting held after school that day to announce who the new AP was going to be. I felt embarrassed to be in the room with the rest of the staff who knew I had been interviewed for the job. I was ashamed and embarrassed. They all knew I wasn’t good enough for the job. I avoided eye contact and waited for them to leave before I got up. I did not want to hear their awkward pity that I didn’t get the job.

I went home and ate a bowl of ice cream; I was still dejected. My conversation with my wife didn’t help. Still dejected. Next up was my old man basketball appointment. I play every Wednesday night from 8-10 pm. I have missed a couple in five years and each time I pouted like a little child and my wife realized I need that time or I will be a complete mess. The games were great that night. I played with some new guys at the park under the lights and we ran the court all night. I didn’t stop playing for almost two and a half hours. Guess how many times I thought about the rejection? You guessed it ZERO. I went home took a shower and went to bed.

The next morning I had a much better perspective. I had the clear understanding that my knowledge in curriculum outside of physical education is weak. That is easy to fix. My superintendent didn’t tell me I was a poor leader and unfit for the job. I wasn’t given feedback that I had to make changes to my attitude or personal skills which is much harder than learning curriculum. He is new this year as well so he didn’t know me as well as my last superintendent either. He had to make a judgement based on my interviews and resume. The person who got the job was better on paper and in the interviews. The silver lining in being rejected for the position was that a woman of color got the position. I am proud to be in a district where your credentials and ability is what gets you hired not your gender or skin color.

I wrap this stream of semi’consciousness with this thought. Even though I was rejected I will not be dejected.

Time to open up this week people!

Q1: What is the biggest rejection of your life? How did you get over it? #slowchatpe

Q2: How did rejection push you in the right direction? #slowchatpe

Q3: Did rejection ever get you down and you never got back up? What happened? #slowchatpe

Q4: How has avoiding rejection negatively impacted your life? #slowchatpe

Q5: Who is you rejection pick up crew that dusts you off so you can try again? #slowchatpe


5 thoughts on “Rejected Not Dejected

  1. Cory Radisch

    I went through the same exact thing a long time ago. I thought I was ready to lead in my building only to be told that the want to go with a “regular teacher”! At least you got a political correct statement that your knowledge of curriculum was weak. I admire you for self reflecting and working toward improving the areas of curriculum. However, I have argued this many times when I found out I wasn’t getting my first VP job (which happened too many times) Good Instruction is Good Instruction. However, I did the same thing you did and went back to the drawing board. I started to sit in on LAL and Math workshops. I ran my health class like a mini-LA class. Then it dawned on me, us PE teachers invented the workshop model of teaching. Let’s analyze: First we introduce a skill. Second, we model the skill. Next we have some sort of guided practice with the students, which leads to independent practice, ending with a quality closure to check for understanding. Keep your head up bro, because the day will come when you get your chance. For now continue being a merchant of hope to your students, your colleagues, and your PLN. For the record, I think people should follow Southwest Airlines strategy of Hire Attitude, Train Skill. Someone will recognize that you have a great attitude along with the ability to lead. LIke you said, all curricula can be learned.



  2. Jim Cordery

    Justin, you described perfectly the exact situation I encountered this summer. My school was hiring a Principal, and I applied. I interviewed for almost 2 hours with the Superintendent and 4 colleagues. In the end, I did not get the job. I was told: “We would be missing too much of a math teacher.” I feel your pain. The students do a great job of steering us back to what is important. Stay the course. The right job is out there. That school/district would be lucky to have you.


  3. jencasatodd

    Hey Justin. Love your post. I was there and it was awful!!! At the end of the day, I do believe you are exactly where you need to be for a reason. I think about the adventures I had this year that I would not have had if I had gotten the other position. Thanks for sharing such a personal story!


  4. jencasatodd

    Justin. Thank you for your post. I was there and it was awful! I think that your attitude is admirable. It took me way longer to get there than it did you. I literally cried for days! At the end of the day, I feel that everything happens for a reason. If I had gotten that position, I would not have had some of the adventures I had this past year. I appreciate your courage in sharing!


  5. iamvlewis

    Great post! What a way for us to reflect and realize that though people may decide our value but from within we know our impact! Bigger is on the way and your pedagogy is sound (moreso than others on paper ).



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