The entire faculty gathered in the staff room immediately after school. It was rare for Bentley VanderHaar, the principal of Bedlam Christian, to call a meeting like this, and when he did it often involved news about misbehaving students being expelled or news about a parent or staff member going suddenly into the hospital or, occasionally, news that faculty insurance was going up or pensions were going down—so the faculty gathered with grim expressions that matched the late winter weather.
It wasn’t until twenty after three that Principal VanderHaar strode into the room. Everyone quieted down and he began.
“Now, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I have been looking at the projections from our feeder schools. Our matrices for next year’s enrollment reveal a disruption in our trend line that’s causing concern about a potential degradation in our budgetary projections.” At this, several of Bedlam’s younger teachers looked at each other quizzically.
Seeing the confusion, PE teacher Rex Kane, who promoted himself as a clear thinker and communicator, jumped into the breach and rephrased. “Bentley means to say that, well, our numbers could use a little goose in the keister. That is, the numbers could stand a kick in the ribs in order for us to be riding high in the saddle, bottom-line-wise.” Now all the faculty looked confused. “That is, we need to put a tiger in our tank in order to get pole position in the race for enrollment. That is, we’ve got to step it up—you know, walk the talk and let actions speak louder than words—because we’ve got a tough row to hoe, enrollment-wise. So even if . . .”
Bible teacher Cal Vandermeer stepped in front of Rex and said to Bentley, “So enrollment is low for next fall and we need to find some ways to bring it up a bit.”
“Exactly,” said VanderHaar, “couldn’t have said it better.”
“I could’ve,” Rex muttered beneath his breath.
“Now, I don’t usually do this,” VanderHaar continued, “but I was reading my Mooseman’s Management Memo this morning, and Don Mooseman (a very well-known management expert) was saying that sometimes when you are up against a wall, it’s a good strategy to ask your employees for suggestions. So I called this meeting to hear what ideas you have.”
There was a silence that stretched just a little bit into awkward territory.
Jan Karsvlaam has recently accepted a position as the International Student Coordinator at Springfield Christian School. Unfortunately, in his joy upon receiving his acceptance email, he dumped his peppermint spice caramel chocolate marshmallow banana split latte onto his laptop, rendering it inoperative, and now he cannot remember which state (or possibly country) Springfield Christian is located in. He would like to use this forum to humbly ask those at Springfield Christian to contact him by phone.