When Teachers Quit: A Lesson in Two Daves

Readers who follow this blog know that in my other life, I work as an Admin Assistant to the Principal of a large suburban high school.
Readers who don’t follow this blog… well, they know now. 

Monday morning, my administrator greeted me with, “I hope your weekend was better than mine.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“A teacher quit!”

My mind raced over the staff list, the various possibilities. Was there a news report I missed? Was someone arrested? I asked who it was — braced myself for the possibility it was someone I liked.

She said the name. It was one of our new teachers. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call him Dr. Dave.

Dr. Dave was one of the first of our new hires, and we considered it a stroke of luck someone with a doctorate was going to teach at our school. First and second year Spanish, no less.

Let that sink in: a man with a doctorate was knowingly accepting a position to teach lower level high school Spanish.


I met Dr. Dave about a month ago. The Department Lead was going to show him his classroom and give him a tour.

Dr. Dave had white hair, thick and wavy. He was stout, but not overly so, and he had a pleasant face.

Also, he spoke like Ricardo Montalban.


He sat on the couch near my desk and told me stories as we waited for the Lead.

He told me of the time he taught in Costa Rica. Everyone in the village told him not to open windows. They didn’t say why, just don’t open windows. He figured it was because of bugs.

But one day he was in his classroom alone and it was stifling hot. He decided to open two windows. Within minutes, the room was full of monkeys!


He told me other things too. The important thing to remember is that he lived in Costa Rica for a time. Got that?

Three weeks later, I’m walking him to his classroom and he’s complaining about Phoenix’s humidity.

“I guess you’re used to it, but my god it’s humid here!”

I looked it up. On that day, the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, was 91°F and our humidity was 36%. In San Jose, Costa Rica, the same day was 82°F and 94% humidity.


I realize I’m suspicious by nature, and just a tad cynical, so I let it pass. Maybe the guy just didn’t like heat. Maybe Costa Rica was long ago and he only remembered the monkeys. Maybe he was just having an off day.

Then, after eight days of school, he gives his notice. But not much of a notice. Monday would be his last day.

The reason? He said our kids weren’t smart enough.

Actually, what he said was that they didn’t know English well enough. He shouldn’t have to spend time explaining sentence structure or reminding them what a predicate was.

Also, they expected him to speak English. He refused. You can’t teach a foreign language by speaking in their native language. “That goes against everything my 37 years of training taught me.”

He quoted Shakespeare in his letter too. Or as he referred to him, “Billy Shakespeare”.


Later that same day, we had another resignation. By another Dave. We’ll call him Dave G.

Dave G. was hired under an emergency provision, allowing non-teachers with bachelor degrees to take “hard-to-fill” positions.

Not sure if you heard, but there’s a teacher shortage. Especially in Science, Math, and Special Ed. Dave G. was hired to teach Earth Science. 

I met Dave G. about a month ago as well. I showed him his classroom, found a teacher’s edition of the class textbook, and listened to his story.

He had been a meteorologist. He worked for a news station for awhile, then for an airline. They moved to Arizona about a year ago and he decided to try out teaching.

After eight days, he realized he was in over his head. “This is the hardest job I ever had,” he told my Administrator. She was sympathetic.

He said he’d stay on until we found a long-term sub, and given the fact he looked like he aged four years since we last met, I thought that was pretty swell of him.

So what are the lessons can we learn from our two Daves?

I believe there are three:

  1. Humility is Always Better than Arrogance
    If you’re having trouble with a job, admit it. Don’t push the blame elsewhere or claim you’re too good for it.
  2. Leaving a Job With No Notice is Not Cool
    Especially for some jobs. Like brain surgery. Not cool. Granted, teaching isn’t brain surgery, but it’s still not cool to leave your post without warning. For our school, five teachers gave up their planning periods to cover the classes until we could find a sub.
    Not cool.
  3. If You Live in Costa Rica, Don’t Open Your Windows
    Whether or not the monkey story is true, it sounds like good advice.

One final note: If you happen to know any teachers, tell them there are a few positions open in Phoenix.

Daves need not apply.

Lead Photo by JJ Thompson and
Monkey Photo by Brian Mann on Unsplash

31 thoughts on “When Teachers Quit: A Lesson in Two Daves

  1. I knew a few people named Dave and they act the same way as your Dave’s. Not a care in the world, would leave you without a dime and never come back to check on you.

    1. Interesting… Personally, I always avoided Nicks and Phillips. The Nicks I knew were all bad boys, and not in a fun way, and the Phillips were always, well, a bit pervy. Strangely, if they went by Nicolas or Phil, they were okay.
      Maybe we should get funding and research this further! 😉

  2. Another lovely example of your envious ability to make a point without leaving any fingerprints, and I say that with a high degree of admiration, even if Dr. Dave might take issue with my structure…

  3. Excellent points and well written. and thanks for the note about Costa Rica – never would have thought of that as a problem. Wait, humidity in Phoenix? I thought it was a “dry heat.” Yes, red flag there.

    1. Right? Granted, 36% is pretty high for Phoenix, but we were in an air-conditioned building when he said it.
      I mean, come on! If you’re going to make up stories, stay consistent. That’s all I ask!

  4. The bizarre behavior of ‘superior’ humans never ceases to baffle me. I need add no more except that I thoroughly enjoyed this and am entirely with your other readers that you have a quite exceptional ability to write pithy and pointed pieces with no discernable forensic trail left behind.

    1. Oh, I cringe to think of anytime I behaved in an arrogant manner. We’re rarely at our best selves when we’re certain we’re the best.
      You can quote me on that. 😉
      Love the image of my clean forensic trail! 😀

  5. brain woolified – no adequate response available at the moment – enjoyed it – write more – avoid daves (well, we have a good dave at work, so think we’ll keep him). need sleep, fresh ideas, possibly chocolate, make more sense? probably not! 🙂

  6. Phew! There for a bit, I thought I’d be having a retirement job in Phoenix. Guess I can only torment the locals with my tortured Spanish and confused sentence structure. (What is a predicate, anyway?) 😉

    1. No one knows, Dave. It’s just a word people with Doctorates throw around to make others feel uncomfortable.
      Oh, and when we have an opening for a photography teacher, I’ll give you a call. You have to stay longer than 8 days though. Remember that. 😉

      1. In the song “Get Over It,” The Eagles sing, “Old Billy was right, Let’s kill all the lawyers, kill ’em tonight,” which is a reference to a famous line by WS.

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