In Opinion: Why I Am Sad To Say Goodbye

Junior shows gratitude for Mr. De la Cruz


Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

This time last year, choir students gave a tearful goodbye to beloved teacher Emma Castaldi, and this year, we are forced to do the same, though not because Mr. De La Cruz wants to leave. 

I haven’t always been the most passionate about choir, but, this year, I genuinely enjoyed it. This was not because of the songs we were singing, or because I enjoyed the 8:00 a.m. classes, but because Mr. De La Cruz made choir a fun and safe environment. 

In his single year at Parker, and his first year teaching, Mr. De La Cruz managed to connect with every single one of us. He showed no favoritism, created a safe classroom environment, and pushed us all to be better. He pulled off two successful concerts along with numerous Grape Jam performances and MX’s, which is no small feat, and accomplished what people with ten more years of experience would still struggle with. Never in my high school career did I imagine that I would do an interlude, or even a solo, but with Mr. De La Cruz’s encouragement and support, I did both. 

If you head to Parker’s website, click on about, and drop down to employment, the following statement will appear:

“Francis W. Parker School is dedicated to hiring a diverse and vibrant community of faculty, staff and administrators who are committed to the School’s mission and to supporting an environment where exceptional child-centered learning can occur. Successful candidates are enthusiastic, passionate about their work and committed to growth and excellence. Together, we all work hard to recognize that each child brings with them his or her own individual learning style, needs and strengths. In collaboration, we build on that foundation to create and sustain a community of lifelong learners.”

Our website preaches the importance of teachers who connect with students, who are dedicated, and who are passionate. Yet, in the hiring process, when choir students and those on the Student Interview Recommendation Board voiced their support for Mr. De La Cruz, our strong thoughts and feelings were not prioritized. How can we as an institution claim to value teachers who center and support students, but not hire a teacher who has done just that so impactfully? 

Choir is at its best when students can connect and grow together, which means growing with their teachers and forming trusting relationships and connections. We will have had three choir teachers in three years, and, as a result, will be robbed of the opportunity to build upon the connections we’ve made with each of these teachers.

As I head into my senior year and decide what classes I want to take, I think not about the teachers with the most experience, but rather those who I connect with most and who have a deep appreciation for their students. Mr. De La Cruz not coming back is a great loss to choir students, who will now have to build new trust with a new teacher, and to the entire Parker community. 

I’m sure that there are things behind the scenes that we don’t know about, but I wish that we, along with Mr. De La Cruz, could get a thoughtful explanation. I hope that as a progressive institution so dedicated to its students, we can realize the mistake of losing such a valuable teacher. Mr. De La Cruz will be thoroughly missed, and we truly appreciate everything that he did for us. If Mr. De La Cruz can pull off what he did this year with the experience he has, then at least we know his future in teaching is going to be great.