We need your support!

I am a member of Team 1464 from Carroll County Maryland. 2006 will be our third year of competition, but the principal for our “home” school has made some troubling changes to our team. (We are a county wide team but we meet at 1 school, the Tech Center). Mrs. Engel, the Tech Center Principal, has declared the team is no longer open to the whole county. Only Tech Center Students, and those on the team from last year, may join this year. Not only is this unfair to those that wish to join, but it hurts the team as well, since you can only attend the Tech Center for 2 years, this will rob the team of 2 yrs of experience. we are taking measures to try and change this ruling, and I hope that as fellow FIRST fanatics, you will come to our aid. I ask that all of you that think this is wrong, please email Mrs. Engel at (removed - Madison), and ask her to change her mind. (Please keep these E-mails nice, polite, and courteous, as she has been a great help to the team in other years)
I thank all of you in advance for your support, and promise to keep you posted on how this all turns out.

One suggestion for this situation:
Before you dive into a campaign, find out her reasoning for this change. There might very well be a very valid and positive reason for this. If not, then fire away. But first understand her position. That also tells her that you care enough about her position, which may help her in bargaining.

Ben, Hi, I’m Jenny Beatty, the FIRST Senior Mentor for Maryland. I am familiar with your team. Please email me at [email protected] so we can have a discussion outside of this public forum. I can understand you are concerned, but having random emails sent to Ms. Engel probably is not the most effective way to address your concerns. It is also generally not cool to post someone’s email in a public forum without their permission so it would be great if you could please delete it.
Let’s talk!

I can think of one good reason why your school would do this. The primary purpose of FIRST is to give students an opportunity to work with engineering and science professionals, to see what it would be like to have a career in those fields.

The FIRST program is very concentrated on a relatively small handful of students at each school. From the schools persepective it is best to have as many students as possible rotate through the program, in fact it would be best to have all new students every year.

From the teams perspective that means you lose all your experienced students, and you may not do as well in the competitions. It would be somewhat like having a rookie team every year

but if the goal of the administration is to reach as many students as possible, then this is a logical thing to do.

If they are saying students can be on the team for 2 years, that is a reasonable compromise.

We have a school like that back in Richmond VA, Hermitage Tech Center, 510 I believe. I’d talk to them about what they do. They are another place that has a 2 year turn around, and they compete very well against well established teams that can draw from a 4 year pool of students.

My advice about dealing with school boards, is to NOT upset them. They have long memories. They also have their reasons for doing what they did. You might never know what the real reason is, but there is a reason.

A measured response is best.

Also use your senior mentor, Jenny Beatty. She is a great resource. Let her suggest the direction to take.

Good Luck.

Don’t forget VEX. If you need to step back, it’s an option.

I suggest a face to face meeting as well. An email campaign will only create barriers to discussion. What you want is a win-win situation.

Listen carefully to her concerns and then think about how you could address them and still meet your goals. It may require both parties to be creative and think outside the box.

Good luck!

Its not the school board. This is Mrs. Engels decision completely.

My apologies for the breach of etiquette. I’ll remover her email as soon as i figure out how to edit the post. If you are so compelled, email it to me([email protected]), and ill deliver it to her in person.

I realize most of the posts are from mentors, but to me it sounds like most of you are saying that theres not much we can do about this. But I don’t want to let such a decision stand between some kids, and a great time. i know there are kids that wish to join that have wanted to for a few years, and now they are being denied that chance. One of them has a sister that was a founding member of the team. that was three years ago, and now we have to tell him he cant follow in her footsteps? (btw, she didn’t attend the tech center either.)

I would like to mention that we have tried a few different ideas. we let it be known at the end of last year when this idea was first proposed that we didn’t agree with it. and by we i mean most, if not all of the youth members of the team, and quite a few adults. Then at the very end of last year, another team member floated the idea of if this did happen, to start a team at another school, and let it open to everybody, and he told me that Mrs. Engel wasn’t too happy about that idea.

don’t get me wrong, i think Mrs Engel is a great principal, but i feel that a County team, and thats what it was started as, and what it was when the school board gave us money last year, and what our sponsors donated to, should be open to the whole county. I hope some of you feel the same way as I do, and if you don’t, well thats the great thing about our country.

Shortbang- be careful not to villanize Mrs Engel lest she actually check these boards or the statements said here accidently make their way to her. If you do villanize her it will make her much more unlikely to negotiate with you.

If it sounds like I’m villanizing her, i don’t mean to. She’s definitely a great help to the team, and we couldn’t of done it without her. But, she’s still the one that had the final say in not letting those who dont attend the tech center in. As great as she can be, and as nice as she is, I have to disagree with her decision.

looking back through this thread I dont see any reason given for why this change was made.

Do you know why the membership rules were changed? If your teacher is a FIRST mentor Im going to assume she is very dedicated, and understands the purpose and goals of the program. You need to find the reasons behind the changes, then you can address possible alternatives or workarounds.

Simply getting a lot of people to tell her they dont like it, or its not fair, is not addressing the root cause of the issue.

From the conversations that took place last year, the only reason i can rember is a mix between making the team more streamlined, and the fact that we use alot of the tech centers equipment, and resources.

We have our first meeting tommorow. Hopefully all goes well.