Chamblee Reacts to Braaten Transfer

Maya Torres, Staff writer

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For the third time in four years, a Chamblee Charter High School principal has decided to leave Chamblee and move on to another position.

Principal Rebecca Braaten worked as Chamblee principal for a year and a half, and will be leaving on December 14.

In the wake of her sudden exit, the Chamblee community reflects on Braaten’s time here.

When the announcement was made, I was not expecting it at this time of the year,” said science teacher and department chair Shaheen Begum. “It came as a shock to me. When Dr. Lowry left and when Dr. Sauce left, I was equally shocked.”

Some staff members felt a bit more relaxed after the announcement.

“When I found out Principal Braaten was leaving Chamblee, my initial reaction was a sense of relief,” said English teacher James Demer. “There had been so much conflict at the school over the past year, and I was relieved that we could now try to repair some of that contention.”

During her tenure as principal, many parents and teachers were dissatisfied with the way in which she chose to run Chamblee.

“Her faults are many and range from mildly incompetent to fatal flaws,” said Jean Cowan, a concerned parents who attended many board meetings. “She was not a good communicator and would often fail to broadcast dates for events or would have confusing and conflicting messages about when events would occur.  She never completed a budget that was satisfactory to the Governing Board, despite being tasked to do so many times, and as a result, teachers still do not have the supplies and software they need to effectively teach.”

However, there was not a shortage of good things Braaten did for Chamblee.

“[I was impressed by] the amount of funds that she was able to dedicate to the science department, especially because we were starting the “Physics First” course [a new freshman science preparation class],” said Begum. “Previously, we had physical science, and we were trying to get rid of it for a few years, but it wasn’t happening. As soon as Ms. Braaten came in, we were able to convince her.”

In general, though, many agree that Braaten’s leadership style didn’t merge well with Chamblee.

“I think, because there are so many people in a school, you really have to get a lot of different perspectives and take a lot of opinions, and I don’t think she was ready to do that,” said sophomore Hope Collins. “She would come in here, and she would tell us how it would be, but that’s not how we work here.”

During the past year, disagreements arose on the best way to run the school.

“I think she genuinely wanted to make things better, but educators will disagree as to the best methods on making things better,” said math teacher Dr. Andrew Milne.

While Braaten’s motives were in the right place, many believed she struggled to realize her plans correctly.

“Rebecca Braaten had some extreme ideas for changing the way things were done at CCHS,” said Cowan. “Some, like the Freshman Academy, AP Capstone Program and the morning coffee sales at CCHS, may have been beneficial if planned out and implemented properly. However, it seems like many of her plans were announced without proper research and planning and were doomed before they started.”

Moving forward, the principal position will be occupied by Terese Allen and Robert Williams until DeKalb County puts a new principal into place.

“The search for a new principal is going to be a battle of its own, because the county has ideas of its own about how those possibly should go forward, but our charter is supposed to have [give us a] substantial voice for that process,” said Milne. “There’s going to be a lot of negotiations about exactly how that process is going to work.”

In the meantime, students, parents, and teachers alike will continue to hope for the best.

“I think everyone in the building believes in the school, and believes that it should be a positive place for people who work here and for the students,” said Milne. “As soon as we remember that’s why we’re here and that’s what we’re committed to, everything will get a lot better for everyone, including the students.”