Q: In light of recent events, I’ve discovered that I need to fire a faculty member at my school who is beloved by the kids. They are unaware of the reason she can no longer work here, and I don’t want to publicize that information anyway. How can I get rid of her gracefully and acknowledge the situation in a professional way with my students and parents?
A: Letting a well-liked faculty member go, especially during the dance season, is very tough. Always be professional and tell the students and parents only what they need to know—which doesn’t include the circumstances of why the teacher was let go. It’s more important to emphasize that it was a decision you alone had to make and that you had a good reason for the dismissal. You can send out letters or e-mails stating that you have had to make a change in the faculty without getting into specifics. Let your parents and students know that you are excited to have a new dance teacher joining your faculty and that you have great confidence in her ability to take your students to the next level.
I do not recommend having an open meeting with the parents, because this will leave the floor open for questions and opinions you may not want to deal with publicly. Your letter or e-mail could read something like: “Unfortunately, Ms. Grace will not be returning to teach at our studio, but we feel fortunate to have Ms. Mary join our dance family. Ms. Mary is very excited to work with our young dancers and be a part of their dance education. If you have any questions or concerns, please come and talk to me.”
As the studio owner, make sure you do not verbally tear “Ms. Grace” down—negative energy is a waste of energy! Be positive about and supportive of the new teacher. Monitor these classes closely and address any concerns that the parents and students might have as they arise.
Joanne Chapman is the owner of the award-winning Joanne Chapman School of Dance in Brampton, Ontario.
Photo by Dan Boskovic, courtesy of Joanne Chapman