Press "Enter" to skip to content

Gadsden County Teacher of the Year’s contract not renewed

Based on her teaching performance in the 2016-17 school year, Judith Mandela, a math teacher at James A. Shanks Middle School in Quincy, was named Gadsden County’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. Just one year later, however, under new Shanks principal Major Willie Jackson, Mandela, who has taught math at Shanks for 12 years, has been recommended not to return to the school next year in her teacher evaluation by Jackson.

Jackson told Tallahassee television station WTXL off-camera that Mandela failed to make adjustments following weekly reports and said “Mandela has high skills, she has low will.”

Mandela explained to WTXL that Willie Jackson failed to have conferences with teachers about issues with their evaluations, but Jackson said he had weekly meetings and that 89 percent of the teachers at Shanks have been recommended to return. Mandela, the vice president of the Gadsden County Classroom Teachers Association, and Ronte Harris, the president, both said this issue is much bigger than Mandela alone.

“Principals across this district are not evaluating teachers according to district policy,” Harris said. “They are not providing teachers enough feedback to improve their teaching.”

Harris said the worst offenders were Mandela’s boss at Shanks and Juliette Fisher-Jackson at Gadsden County High School.

The association will be filing grievances on between 10 and 15 teacher evaluations at the two schools this coming week, according to Harris, who said the grievances will also cite the evaluation processes at the the schools.

“Parents need to understand that the ones who are really suffering here are the students,” Harris said. “The teachers will probably all go on to get other jobs, but these principals should be giving feedback all year to guide instruction rather than just providing one evaluation toward the end of the year.”

Gadsden County School Superintendent Roger Milton’s said that last week was the first he had heard about problems with evaluations in the district. Harris disagreed.

“I have been complaining to Roger Milton for four years about teacher evaluations,” Harris said. “This goes back to when he was a school board member.”

Mandela and local teacher association president Harris addressed the school board regarding the evaluation issue at the board’s last meeting, May 22.

Randall Lieberman