Padgett resigns from GBHS over summer

Padgett+resigns+from+GBHS+over+summer

From the outside, room 807 appears completely unremarkable. For many students, however, it was a second home, a place where they could escape the pressures of Granite Bay High School, even if only for a brief ten minute passing period.

For the past 11 years, this room was occupied by Jenny Padgett, a former GBHS English teacher. “Former” as of this school year; only last summer did she announce her resignation. This came as a surprise to many of her students, colleagues and, in part, herself.

“When the school year ended I had every intention of returning in the fall,” Padgett said.

“I’m not a person who enters into big life changing decisions lightly,” she said. “But I’ve also learned throughout my life—and through the study of literature—to trust my instincts and be willing to take some personal risks.”

 

Why did she leave?   

The reason for her resignation, she said, was two-fold. In part, it was prompted by her dissatisfaction with the school district.

Last spring, it came to the attention of Padgett that she would be teaching English 9 instead of AP Literature, which she had begun teaching 3 years prior. The reason for this restructuring, she and many others felt, was as a punishment for how she proctored the District Writing Assessment (DWA) in December of 2015.

Last December, Padgett gave a talk to students in which she told the students that they should not worry about the DWA, and that it is extra stress that they should not have to deal with.

This led to an abnormally high number of students writing essays on their issues with the DWA and how it was an unnecessary extra stress, instead of following the prompt for the DWA.

“I was being unjustly punished and made an example of through the reassignment of my role in GBHS’ AP Literature course,” Padgett said in an email. “I felt like I was working within a system that was not interested in resolution, but in punitive measures and retaliation.”

Padgett was not upset that the district was taking her classes, but rather the means and manner by which they went they went about the restructuring.

“The AP Literature class was never ‘mine.’ No teacher should or could ‘own’ a teaching position.” Padgett said.  “It is healthy to change schedules and teach different curriculums throughout a teaching career.”

“What prompted me to seek out a new district,” she continued, “was the fact that changing my teaching assignment was not part of a healthy or general departmental restructuring, but rather was being used as a way to marginalize, reprimand, and punish me.”

Her other principal reason for departing from GBHS had to do with her destination.

“For several years my husband and I have spent weekends and vacations in the Santa Cruz area and in the Santa Cruz mountains and we always hoped to be able to live in the area one day,” Padgett said.

Her hope became reality after she found a school at which she wanted to teach, just a 35 minute drive from Santa Cruz.

“When I interviewed for the job I ended up taking at Cupertino High School, I had such a remarkable experience talking with the school’s principal that I knew, as she said at the time, I had ‘found my people.’”

Notwithstanding her excitement for her new position, Padgett treasured her time at GBHS.

“Granite Bay High School is where I learned how to become a teacher, and I’m so grateful to have spent so much of my career there.” Padgett said.  “From 2002-2008, my own children attended Granite Bay and those were amazing years where I felt very connected to all aspects of the campus.”

“But my greatest memories of Granite Bay are the students who became such a huge part of my life and with whom I’ve shared pieces of my heart and soul. I’m so grateful to continue to connect with so many tremendous students who have graduated, moved on, and are living fabulous lives and those who are still on campus with whom I maintain contact and friendships,” she said.

 

Padgett’s effect on students

Unsurprisingly, her students share a similar opinion of her as she does of them. Haley Byam, a 2014 graduate, spoke about her time with Padgett.

“Mrs. Padgett was my teacher but I’d also consider her a friend. She is one of the warmest, most genuine people I’ve ever met, and she has true compassion for each and every student, even the ones who aren’t in her class,” Byam said.

And to those not in her class, it seems she had just as big of an impact. 2016 graduate Caroline Palmer was one such student.

“I never had Padgett as a teacher, but my junior year I met her through some of her students at the time,” Palmer said.

“She was so much more than a teacher at Granite Bay,” she said. “She was someone who was a source of comfort and moral support for students who really didn’t have anyone else they could talk to or trust at times.”

 

Padgett’s passion for teaching   

Padgett taught her students, whether they were in her class or not, more than what you would get out of a traditional English class. For many, she acted as a role model.

“She truly cares about the subject she teaches and has this incredible ability to ignite that passion in her students as well,” Byam said. “She’s such a smart, fiercely unapologetic woman, and everything about her is just so inspiring. She’s one of my biggest role models.”

“She encouraged me to think for myself and to not be swayed by other’s beliefs,” Palmer said. “She taught me how to accept myself and to challenge authority if what I thought was going on, was wrong. Just being around her and witnessing the way she interacted with people, made me a better person. I’ve never met a more kind, sympathetic, giving, tolerant person.”

Additionally, Padgett helped with issues not directly related to school. GBHS junior Vyas Srinivasan appreciated her help involvement with his club, A Touch of Understanding.

“She helped me with the A Touch Of Understanding club. She helped me make copies of my handouts I made when I’m teaching my lessons on social skills,”  Srinivasan said.

Srinivasan formed a close relationship with Padgett in his two years at the school.

“She helped me think on the positive side and she really helped me become a good person and a good leader especially for the ATOU club,” he said.

“My favorite memory I have of her is how much she cared for me,” Srinivasan said. “She would be very honest with me … And I would like it if she could come back.”

Although Padgett is no longer teaching at GBHS, the legacy she left is timeless. Her positivity and honesty is still present on the campus in her students and those she affected.

“I’m happy for her,” Byam said. “I hope that the next administration she works for will actually appreciate her, respect her and see what an invaluable addition she is to any school … Stay lit, Mrs. Padgett.”   

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