There are some great teachers who demonstrate compassion, caring and empathy. If your child is lucky enough to have one of those teachers I think they will learn well. Generally speaking, Darwin Elementary does not teach these values. As for the principal himself, he can be foul mouthed . I think that his level of unprofessionalism, disrespect and unequal treatment of staff, though not necessarily demonstrated in front of students, does eventually manifest itself in the end. Just go back to that inane self-help nonsense of a leadership on which a great deal of time and money is wasted. That is a program whose focus is on success and not necessarily on compassion, honesty or integrity. On the contrary, I think the school develops resentment, frustration and cynicism. I am speaking at the administrative level. A case in point would be when the Darwin Elementary had what could be called a “shame parade”. In anticipation of the ISAT tests (which were pretty much useless since they were being discontinued) a disturbing event occurred in which students who had achieved “meets” or “exceeds” were made to parade around the school with t-shirts stating their achievement while those who did not were made to stand by and applaud them as they marched through the school. In other words, the only effect was to create an inflated sense of entitlement in some students while shaming and discouraging those “losers” who didn’t get a t-shirt and were made to dutifully applaud the achievers. Now, I ask, does allowing like something like this to take place give you any indication of where the administration's priorities are? Is it any indication of the level of understanding that this man has of basic psychology? It is because he is not a thinking person when it comes to anything other than his personal aggrandizement. This was actually the idea of a couple of inexperienced and naive teachers. An idea that the learned and experienced principal (who likes to remind you of how many Master's degrees he has and how he is an educator cum laude) thought was great. You certainly don’t learn empathy when you are made to parade in front of your lesser achieving students and they are made to cheer you. Besides all of this, how in the world does this nonsense improve students’ performance? Answer: it doesn't. But the administration is too dense to know this.Good grief!
I think the principal plays a huge role in the experience that any teacher, student or parent will have at that school. It is almost as if he views some parents with suspicion and cultivates relationships and does favors for a select group of parents who return the favor. The principal seems to have an antagonistic view towards parents who are informed and views that as a threat. I have been at meetings with this principal and other parents. If they challenge him on a topic or show him that they are informed, he becomes irritated and even disrespectful with his body language, doing things such as closing his notebooks and making movements as if he has to leave while the parent is still speaking. This is a man with a raging ego who does not like to be challenged.
As a parent of a student at Darwin, I am very concerned about the leadership at Darwin. Mr. Segovia does not seem fit to lead at an elementary school. The stories that I've heard from teachers about his abusive behavior toward veteran teachers, and on the other end the blatant favoritism towards a privileged few of his staff; is completely unacceptable. "His" LSC also doesn't help because everything and everyone are kept in the dark about the budget, programming, and teacher hires/cuts. The only way we as parents are informed is through a monthly newsletter that is full of extremely poor grammar. I have heard great stories from friends of mine of wonderful principals at various other CPS schools, I wish that I could say the same about my child's principal. Unfortunately, I am not in a financial position to pay for private school tuition. I just hope that the LSC would listen more to the teachers, the parents, and the community...not simply to him.
Darwin is a great place with dedicated teachers and administrators. I used to work at this school and I witnessed first hand the hard work and dedication from all the staff, including administrators. I have been at different schools during my career and Mr. Segovia is by far one of the most involved and hard working principals I’ve met. From the beginning he has worked tirelessly to bring positive programs to Darwin such as PBIS and The Leader in Me. These programs have proven to promote the wellbeing of our students.
The principal expects the students to say "Good Morning" in unison to him when they pass him in the morning. If they don't say it he then refers to himself in the third person and reminds them to greet the principal. However, if they happen to be middle school students who display more of a willingness to challenge and oppose, he will shy away from confronting them about their boisterous behavior, public displays of affection and below the buttocks pants-wearing. It is quite a site to see this happening even during fire drills where certain classes come running down the stairs laughing, talking and in disarray during a fire drill and rather than confront these students he acts like he doesn't notice it. You can then see the seething anger in his face because he knows that he should confront these rowdy teens but he is too timid. Then, if another classroom comes along that is slightly talkative or not in a straight line (and usually led by a female teacher and below sixth grade) he then finds a great deal of courage and resolve and whips that class into shape, for sure!
Well, again, there is this whole forced program they have implemented at the school that takes up a whole lot of instructional time. It consists of a lot of mindlessly repeated mantras that have no real meaning to the students. It’s all about putting up a facade, a show, for people to come and look at a bunch of posters on the walls with trite sayings and robotic and forced performances by teachers and students when they have "leadership days". They also spend an extraordinarily inappropriate amount of instructional time making the kids comply with directives in order to achieve "lighthouse" status. How this program improves educational outcomes at this or any school is unproven, yet the principal forced the whole school to buy into this. It all about the principal festooning himself with achievements that don't necessarily benefit the students. If your child attends Darwin Elementary, they will spend a lot of time collecting obnoxious and repetitive data about themselves in a "leadership binder" and rehearsing their lines for the big "show off" day where the principal likes to put on his chef's hat and expect you to marvel at the incredible work he is doing. The principal also coaches students on how to answer a survey that results in a school rating. Certain teachers will take time out of learning to prep them for this survey. He also has one of his lieutenants go around the school with a clipboard checking the names of teachers who have completed the survey and reminding them to give the principal a good rating because he is so great. This is so the principal can tout himself . The principal will also seek to exact vendettas on other teachers by "punitively" reassigning to grade levels and positions that he knows will be difficult for the teacher. One teacher taught kindergarten for many years and then was reassigned to a middle school science position and later reportedly said that he hopes that she retires as a result of the reassignment. Or go ahead and attend one of the Local School Council meetings and observe how disrespectful he can be towards members who disagree with him. All of this does not go unnoticed by students at Darwin who are very intelligent and observant.
No. The administration will allow every opportunity to detract from meaningful learning and embroil the students in senseless programs and testing regimes that don't improve educational outcomes. He will dedicate a whole day to kids mindlessly repeating the digits of pi every March 14th yet makes now effort to organize meaningful educational activities like African-American heritage month or President's day. Despite some testing being optional he will voluntarily subject the school to these testing sessions such as three MAP assessments and 2 PARCC assessments. He seems to have this grandiose idea that latching on to every Board suggested directive will demonstrate that he is a pioneer of some sort. Students become overwhelmed with all the testing and lose interest. The principal thinks that by holding pep rallies and pleading with them that their scores are going to raise. Its like the old saying where you keep weighing the animal but you never feed it.
I have known Mr. Segovia for many years. His integrity and work ethic drive him to be the very best each day. His commitment to the community, his staff, and most importantly the students of Darwin School should be the model used for all CPS Schools. Thank you for all your hard work!
For years I have witnessed the work of a committed, caring and hardworking principal. Some teachers are incredibly caring, talented, and dynamic. Those are the teachers that jump on board in a heartbeat for the good of achievement, students, and the future of Darwin School.
What tough jobs some principals and teachers have! I thank our Principal and those teachers that do it with dedication, respect, love and courage.