Unwilling Hostess

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I just finished my first year teaching. I teach all the children in a small
school district, Grades 1-12, whose native language is not English. It’s
a zillion hours or preparation each week, but I have made steady
progress creating relationships with the children and their families,
many of whom work in service occupations and speak very little
English. The former teacher taught there a decade before retiring so it
has been an uphill battle to earn their trust. I am also being undercut
by my aide, whom I inherited, who comments regularly how Mrs.
Rodriguez did things differently. I am btw a nice Jewish girl, also a
good teacher or caring of other cultures and their sensitivities or
needs. I use more modern tools than the departed Mrs. R and the kids
are doing great. The end of term party is approaching. I know I will be
asked to invite her. What do I do?

Unwilling Hostess

Dear Unwilling:

Your signoff makes clear what you want to do, so the real question is
how you accomplish it. I’d counsel operating on two fronts: one with
the aide, and one with Mrs. R. With the aide, explain that you want to
focus on the future not the past, but that you acknowledge Mrs. R was
an important influence. Say you’re planning a special surprise for her
next fall, but that this event is to celebrate the current year. If she
reminds you in fall about what you said, you can have the students
write letters (in English) to Mrs. R saying what they are learning, and,
if necessary, invite her in as a special guest.

There’s not much you’ll be able to do politely if Mrs. R appears the
evening of the event, because telling her to her face she isn’t welcome
would be both rude and counter productive. So I’d send her a personal
note asap telling her how much you have appreciated the chance to
inherit the efforts of her later career years. Say that the transition has
been a little long because of how much she meant to them and you
have plans to surprise her in the fall. Shhhhhh: stay tuned Mrs. R…..