In 1972, during my first year as a teacher, I began to think I’d made a colossal mistake. While excited to be making money in a respectable career, I felt stifled surrounded by two school authoritarian administrators who seemed to spend more time in my classroom than one would expect. Two men ran the school; a principal and assistant principal and all the teachers were women.
I was a good teacher. Students and parents liked me. So did Mr. Vice-Principal. During my mid-year evaluation, Mr. Vice-Principal pulled his chair close to me and placed his hand on my upper thigh, nudging it under the hem of my dress. As his unshaven face and bulbous nose moved toward my face, I started to feel sick to my stomach.
This was my evaluation. Get your hand off my leg. I don’t know what came over me, but I looked him square in the eye, pushed his hand off my thigh, and tried to threaten him; If you ever touch me again, I’ll tell your wife. She was a first-grade teacher in a nearby school and worked with several of my good friends.
He pulled back, gave me a smirk, and uttered, “You better get those kids in your classroom under control,” and sent me on my way. I had just experienced my first dose of sexual harassment in the workplace. Not fair; this guy’s a real pig and unfortunately, my boss. I began to look for a way out of teaching.
Dr. Marilou Ryder
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