Teachers, parents vocal in their support of Strube
The surprise announcement late last month of Jon Strube’s reassignment from his post as Tzouanakis Intermediate School principal surprised many people in the Greencastle community, both inside and outside the school corporation.
On Monday, many of those same people showed up at the Greencastle School Board meeting to express their frustration.
The announcement came on Monday, Nov. 26 in a brief email from Superintendent Jeff Hubble, who announced that Strube was moving from the post in which he has served for the last seven years to Central Office to assist with personnel and finance.
Hubble’s announcement connected the decision to the car accident that injured GCSC finance director Jayme Barber earlier this fall. Barber has since been charged with a felony and two misdemeanors relating to that crash.
Both Strube and Assistant Superintendent Donovan Garletts have had new duties assigned in the wake of Barber’s absence.
However, the way that Strube’s reassignment was handled has a number of teacher and parents upset, and they let their voices be heard in the first school board meeting since the decision.
Angela Huff, who has two children who have gone through Tzouanakis, was the first to speak during public comments.
“During my older son’s 10 years at Greencastle, he has experienced the leadership of seven different building principals,” Huff said. “Jon Strube was at the helm for all three years that Ben was at TZ and it provided much-appreciated continuity for my son.
“From the tone he sets from the top — creating an orderly and professional environment, to the structure he builds into the day, and even the rules or restrictions he creates or supports in the lunch room or at recess, he impacts the students’ day.”
Huff said she has talked to Strube, who has accepted his reassignment to Central Office. The administrator told her he had no warning.
“He was 100 percent blind-sided. He has received no feedback,” Huff said.
Huff questioned why no “fair and due process” was followed.
On this and other questions, board members and school attorneys repeatedly spoke about it being a personnel matter, which prohibits them from saying anything.
“That’s their way of protecting the teachers’ property interest and their rights,” school attorney Emma Jay said. “We are trying to afford every teacher all due process rights.”
In spite of this, the comments and questions about Strube’s situation continued, with 11 people standing up to speak either directly about Strube or the low morale such moves are creating in the corporation.
Former Greencastle High School teacher and Tzouanakis parent Jana Boggess spoke about the work Strube did to accommodate her son’s needs, which included getting math instruction that well outpaced his instruction in other subjects.
“He, upon receiving test scores, met with my student’s teacher,” Boggess said. “He made it work with the classroom teacher, with the gifted and talented teacher. Not because it was easy, but because it was what was in the best interest of my son.”
As a former teacher, Boggess went on to give some insight on what the suddenness of the decision did to teachers.
“Whether intentional or not, you have created the kind of environment that was here when Lori Richmond was here six years ago,” Boggess said. “If someone can be removed without due cause, they are fearful that they are going to be the next one.”
She wasn’t the last person to invoke the name of the former Greencastle superintendent who was ousted in the middle of the 2012-13 school.
Community member Leslie Hanson called on Board President Mike White to be part of the solution, like he was six years ago.
“Teachers are scared and anxious to do their jobs,” Hanson said. “Mike, you became part of the solution at that time. I ask that you do it again.”
Another woman echoed the feelings of deja vu.
“You know the damage that was done before, yet we’re still doing the same thing over and over again,” she said. “Six years later, I am standing here, again, telling you that we are thinking of pulling our kids out of Greencastle.”
It has been suggested in the community, though not by the school administration, that Strube was perhaps reassigned because of struggles with ISTEP scores at the intermediate school. With a sizable portion of the Tzouanakis faculty in attendance, several said it wasn’t for lack of preparation on Strube’s part.
Music teacher Carrie Hamilton, who has worked for eight building principals at three schools in her time with Greencastle, said she has never seen such a meticulous planner as Strube. She also spoke of his open relationship with teachers.
“Jon always says that we’re not going to agree but my door is always open. And his door was always open to me,” Hamilton said. “I’ve always felt respected.”
Both Hamilton and fifth-grade teacher Chelle Hendershot questioned the wisdom of removing a principal mid-year, especially after the way the year began with the mold problem at Tzouanakis.
“Removing Mr. Strube has created chaos that teachers still have to fill on a daily basis,” Hamilton said. “I am directly affected by this poor decision and I continue to see others affected as well.”
“I have felt like this year has been a struggle for me,” Hendershot said. “There has been so much upheaval. We work with children and when you work with children, if you change things on a dime, it’s going to be a struggle.
“I am stressed, and it’s not (because of) the kids. And I hate that because when I’m stressed, the kids are affected.”
During the regular part of the meeting, the board finalized a number of the decisions that were initially made by Hubble last month. During the personnel report, they approved Strube’s reassignment, as well as the chain reaction created by the void.
Assistant Principal Jennifer Rhoades was appointed interim principal. Physical education teacher Brad Phillips was appointed as interim assistant principal, and Tiffany Thompson was hired as a long-term substitute for the PE position.
Other issues addressed at the Monday meeting will be covered in an upcoming edition of the Banner Graphic.