No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

FPC’s Mockingbird Director Quits Abruptly, Walking Out on 6 Classes and 2 More Shows

| March 7, 2011

Off script: Ed Koczergo calls it quits at FPC. (© FlaglerLive)

Ed Koczergo, the Flagler Palm Coast High School drama teacher and director of last month’s acclaimed student production of To Kill a Mockingbird, resigned before noon today and walked out on close to 150 students in six classes and two scheduled theater productions later this year. Auditions for “The Wizard of Oz,” scheduled for this afternoon, were cancelled.

Koczergo, in his third year at FPC and in the Flagler County school district, said he decided to resign when he received a letter from the district informing him that his contract would not be renewed, but that he was welcome to reapply for next year. Close to 200 teachers with less than four years’ experience have received similar letters, which are nor unusual, particularly in economically difficult times. Most are likely to be rehired, though the district faces uncertainty as budget constraints may lead to a revamping of class schedules and the elimination of many elective classes. In fact, near the end of Koczergo’s first year, a similar situation occurred where numerous teachers were told that their jobs might be in jeopardy. The principal then let small groups know who looked safe and who didn’t (Koczergo was deemed safe).

In any case, those factors played only a small role, if any, in Koczergo’s decision today.

“I’m not going to let them suck a couple more months out of me and then not hire me back. I’m going out on a high note,” he said. Asked about walking out on his students some three months before the end of the school-year, he said: “I feel horrible about that but I can’t do it anymore. The fact that they’re asking us to continue to work with no assurance that any of these teachers are coming back that are on annual contract is very, very wrong. I feel like I’ve been fired.”

Late Monday evening, in what appeared to be the extension of an olive branch, Jacob Oliva, the principal at Flagler Palm Coast High School–who’d been out sick for a couple of days–wrote in response to an emailed request for an interview about Koczergo: “I am surprised by Mr. Koczergo’s resignation. He put his heart and soul into his productions. I understand that he is frustrated with education and is having health issues. I have not spoken to him yet but plan to try and touch base with him tomorrow. I am willing to work on communication issues.”

Students, meanwhile, were shaken by the day’s events.

“This is just crazy,” said Eddie Green, one of Koczergo’s star students and the lead in numerous play, including the role of Atticus Finch in Mockingbird, for which he was praised.  Green planned to audition for Oz. “That doesn’t sound like him to quit like that,” he said. Green had had a class with Koczergo this morning. There’d been no indication of Koczergo quitting. The class discussed theater and went through its usual paces. By lunch-time, news of Koczergo’s walk-out was “spreading like wildfire,” Green said, though students were referring to it as if Koczergo had been fired.

That, of course is not the case.

“We were rehearsing for our upcoming play, ‘13 past midnight,’” Green said, “so now I don’t know what happens to that show either. You know me, I love acting on stage. Now if he’s gone I don’t know if I get to do that anymore. Mockingbird was a good show, it was a high note, but I still wanted to continue the year and do the next two show.” Not to mention finish out his drama class: “I don’t think it’s possible for them to bring a new acting teacher so suddenly. I don’t know. I’m kind of upset now.”

John Sbordone, who built the Flagler Playhouse into a force on the local theater scene since 2006–and who resigned there just last month–said late Monday afternoon he was willing to direct the last two plays at FPC. But Sbordone, who’s watched Koczergo’s students at work and also directs student plays at Matanzas High School (with one opening Friday) said FPC would have to extend the invitation.

Koczergo, who was making around $62,000 a year (including the $1,500 per show staged after school), had 27 years’ experience in the Indiana school system, from where he retired to move to St. Augustine. A different sort of controversy contributed to his transfer from high school to middle school in his last years in Indiana. Affable, Koczergo is not: he is hard-headed and “intense” (in the parlance of students who work with him), though his students are extremely loyal to him and his first four evaluations netted him perfect scores. Not this year: he was told, after the Mockingbird controversy, that he needed to work on his communications skills with the administration. He described last week’s letter about his re-employment status as “the last straw.”

“Shame on him if he attempts to make it anything related to that,” said Colleen Conklin, the school board member who championed Mockingbird and without whose actions the play would not have been reinstated. “This was something that was sent out to over 180 teachers. I enjoyed what he did with our students. I’m disappointed that he’s chosen to just walk away from that responsibility.” Conklin said she hoped there was more to the story. “It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

School Superintendent Janet Valentine, who had initially supported the decision to cancel the play then equally supported its reinstatement, was struck by the day’s developments. “I hate that somebody is making a decision like that in midstream but I know he can make his own decision and I know it’s not a popular letter to get,” Valentine said of the non-renewal letters that went to teachers. “But we felt in fairness to all our annual employees that we needed to give them the information that their employment is not guaranteed. We do anticipate hiring the majority of staff back.”

Nevertheless Koczergo felt the administration at FPC made him the scapegoat of everything that went wrong with Mockingbird’s fate, leading up the cancellation and through the controversy around the play, when, in reality, the judgment calls that led to the cancellation of the play–and the school’s and district’s ensuing embarrassment over it–were not his. Ripples from the controversy were not limited to the play. Those ripples have led to still-unresolved policy disagreements at the school board over how much authority principals should wield unilaterally when judging a play appropriate for their student body.

Koczergo’s main concern as his spoke of his decision was less his students and how they’d cope with the remainder of the year as opposed to his issues with the administration. (Later in the day, he mentioned blood pressure issues.)

“This was going to be the opportunity they needed to get rid of me and I didn’t want to sit around half the summer waiting to see if I was going to be interviewed to return,” Koczergo said from his phone while driving home to St. Augustine this morning. “And based on my conversation with Lynette Shott, the indication did not seem particularly positive.” Shott is one of five assistant principals at FPC. She met with Koczergo on Friday, when the matter of Koczergo’s handling of Mockingbird came up again.

The administration criticized Koczergo last November for not getting the script of the play approved before rehearsals began. The administration, in conjunction with the district, canceled the play in reaction to unspecified issues around performers’ use of the word nigger on stage. News of the cancellation triggered a public outcry. The school board got involved and the play was eventually reinstated, and staged over four performances to good crowds the last weekend in February. It netted the drama club $6,000, more than any play it had staged before.

“I was also told by Ms. Shott on Friday during my brief meeting of the issue of why I didn’t bring the script to Jacob came up again,” the director said, referring to Jacob Oliva, the FPC principal, “and of course it was because I didn’t have an concerns about the script, and she said it was this ‘unawareness’ of mine that was a problem. I have no idea what she meant by that. I think she’s telling me it was my unawareness that may have cause the controversy but I’m not the one that caused it, and the show of course speaks for itself.”

Green, the senior actor, had one message for Koczergo: “Don’t quit, don’t just walk out on us. We love you we need you, and –I don’t know, every single kid that takes his acting class loves him, I’m pretty sure.”

Koczergo’s students informed his students of his decision in a Facebook letter at 1 p.m. “I love all y’all! I am so sorry if my resignation has caused you any pain. Mockingbird was my triumph and, ultimately, my downfall. It sucked the life out of me. I just can’t do it anymore,” he wrote, reiterating the issue of the letter. “I just can’t do two more shows this year because the stress level is too high and my blood pressure medication can’t put a dent in it. If that makes me the Cowardly Lion, so be it.”

Several of his students, including Megan Cash, now a student at Wesleyan University, quickly voiced their support: “I’m sorry all the stress pushed you to do this, but I understand,” Cash wrote. “You’re an amazing teacher, and you really put your all into your work and every show. The shows really attracted large crowds full of excited students anticipating a great piece of art; I had never seen so many students audition before, and it was so beautiful. You really emphasized the importance of speech and articulation, and although those are things that I’m still personally working on, I now see the beauty in them. You had so many stories and so much pizazz, and you will definitely be missed. You’re very much appreciated. Thanks for contributing so much.”

Shawn-Michael Manniel, the sophomore who played the angry Bob Ewell in Mockingbird, wrote: “Mr.K you are an amazing acting teacher and Ive learned alot from you, But its alright. I just wanted to let you know that Im not mad, and I understand and thank you very much Mr.K for everything, I was hoping to become a major actor at the school, and hopefully I still can become one. But it all depends on what happens.”

“When I am on stage getting my ♥ Oscar ♥,” Victoria Wiesner wrote, “you will be one of the people I thank.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

56 Responses for “FPC’s Mockingbird Director Quits Abruptly, Walking Out on 6 Classes and 2 More Shows”

  1. Peggy Ellis says:

    Too bad he is leaving his students in a lurch. I am not anti-teacher, but this is very unprofessional.

  2. Alisha Osborn Rosenthal says:

    Wow! Nice example to set for our youth! I don’t want anyone to loose their job but cmon

  3. K says:

    What a sad loss for the kids at FPC. I blame the small minded administration who clearly were executing a vendetta against Mr. K. However, I am very disappointed in Mr. K for abandoning these kids who so clearly adore and admire him.

    What have the kids learned from this?

    #1 That you can fight the ivory tower and win- but they can come back and get you in the end.

    #2 When you don’t like what your bosses do, quitting and walking out on your responsibilities is acceptable.

    I find myself more and more concerned about FPC every day. I hope Ms. Valentine is paying attention and considering changes for next year.

  4. ForThePeople says:

    The administrators at both high schools have done this before. It purely retailiation, for voicing an opinion different from the administration. It’s happened at matanzas as well. It’s a shame when creative teachers that push the students to think out side the small minded area a let go or forced to quit.

  5. Shawn-Michael says:

    I understand Mr.K’s decision.
    He was probably the coolest teacher Ive ever had, and Ive learned more from him in one year then two years in a English class. this was my first year acting and Ive had an extremely great time learning from him and him being my director.
    Mr. K will not be forgotten, and do not despise him for what he has done, he did the right thing. He helped me and many other kids fight for whats right, and look what happens, it comes hitting right back at you. And he didnt want to take the full impact, he evaded it decisivly, and this to me; is the right thing to do.

    • Megan says:

      I had K ages ago when he taught in Indiana. The administration always had a problem with him, his students rarely did. He was one of my 3 favorite teachers. He always did what he needed to do, and we respected him for it.

  6. Rob says:

    Unprofessional my a**.
    Setting an example? Get your heads out of your a**

    The school gave this man his walking papers and he said fine and I am not waiting until the end of the year. Bye.
    The administration indicated he was being terminated and he chose to go on his terms not theirs.
    It was like the principal pulled his pants down and stuck his behind in this man’s face and expected him to take it.

  7. Jim Guines says:

    This entire situation just does not smell right to me, Something is very wrong with this picture, Mr.K would never do this unless he does not trust the administration for reasons that only he knows,

  8. Ed Koczergo says:

    OK, I should let this go, but let’s clear the air: Pierre, you are quite fair in your assessment of this situation. You have always treated me with respect, and I acknowledge your reporting with a positive nod. I HATE leaving my students in such a dire circumstance, but I really have no choice. The “letter” leaves nearly 200 hundred teachers in dire straits. Has anyone thought of that? Nearly 200 teachers in this county have 4 years (or fewer) in this school system. What does that say about education in this county? No one wants to be here. No one wants to work here. But, if you do, you are restricted in your creativity. Seriously, it’s time to get your act together, Florida….and Rick Scott “ain’t” the way to do it.

    Shawn-Michael, thank you, you are a BEAST. You and the rest of my students understand what this all about!

    Rob….you got it right off the bat!

    Dr. Jim Guines, not a single person admires you more than I, but I had to do this. I love my students….you’ve seen how hard I’ve worked for them when you saw the dress rehearsal of Mockingbird. Please tell me you can stop this idiocy….this illiteracy…this complete disregard for the future of Florida’s youth.

  9. Jack Cowardin says:

    “To Each His Own.” No man knows what another thinks nor believes is right. To make judgement in this case is to invite judgement on oneself. He is a good man and he was true to himself, a virtue in itself.
    I thank him again for Mockingbird.

  10. Jim Guines says:

    Thanks for communicating via this comment box as I had no idea what or why you are ding what you are doing. I wish I could help, youir students need you and evidently the teachers in the system need a hero badly. I have come to respect and frankly like you so I hate to see you do this even for the causes that I have just stated. I think I respect you more for attempting to show your gut’s heart,

  11. Ms. Pagello says:

    A note to Mr. K – the administration called a meeting for the cast of Mockingbird today. Your students miss you terribly. Tears were shed. Some even called you a father figure. You have inspired your acting students and they are so grateful to have been in your presence. They wish you well and feel your health is most important.

    Mockingbird was a huge success. You went out with a bang! You are a hard act to follow!

    I will make you this promise…I will make sure the murder mystery comedy 13 Past Midnight is performed on stage, but you must promise to be in the audiance and congratulate the cast back-stage!

  12. Just wondering says:

    Would it have been better if Flagler County Schools waited until June 10th to inform teachers of this situation where they may not be rehired. I know Volusia did it last year to hundreds of teachers. At least Flagler had the decency to give teachers about 3 months notice so they could start making other plans.

    I don’t know Mr. K, however, I personally feel it sets a poor example for our students when you walk out of a job in the middle of it. OK, there were issues you had with administration. I guess I thought you were there for your students. I guess I was wrong.

    Do us all a favor and stay in St. Aug and collect your nice pension from Indiana.

  13. Teacher Advocate says:

    It is all about the money, and judging by his salary his chances of being rehired are slim to none. This is a tactic that Flagler County has used for years. Get rid of the teachers at the top of the pay scale…those on annual contract who can be non-renewed and they do not even have to be given a reason. Then hire new teachers at half the salary.

    With the governor’s budget indicating a 10% decrease in education funding this is their solution…and it does a huge disservice to the students. What they fail to realize is that these highly qualifiied, experienced teachers, besides being masters at their craft, are also mentors for new teachers.

    Check out the school grades the year after the district was the only “A” district in the state where all schools scored an “A”. (2007-2008) At the end of that year they decided to non-renew a majority of teachers at the high end of the pay scale…school grades dropped and have continued to drop over the past 3-4 years. Just a coincidence? I think not…

  14. jason cazella says:

    why ridicule him for doing what he did when he walked out of the front doors he made a statement i have been in those types of situations to i mean working with K was an excellent experience and him walking out just shows how badly the school board pressures people look at the john suberdome case where he and diane also resigned so i dont know what exactly is going on in the school system but theres a major flaw somewhere

  15. LivingInReality says:

    The administration in this county has a problem with retaliating again teachers that speak up for themselves or their students. I remember a story about an art teacher at Matanzas that was first told she would not be rehired, then the principal tried to accuse her of stealing a laptop. This seems like standard operating procedures for this district, do what ever you can to try to get rid of a teacher. Including falsely accusing them of crimes. What kind of example do that set for students, when the people who run the district retaliate against a teacher when the standup for themselves or their students.

  16. Ralph Belcher says:

    To Kill a Mockingbird – It’s a shame this fantastic performance was given a thumbs down by FPC Jacob Oliva. I offer two thumbs up to Pierre Tristam, who took the issue to task shining a very bright light on the reasons for cancellation. And to School Board Member Colleen Conklin who stood up for Mockingbird and censorship issues…

    I am ashamed that Jacob Oliva is the principal of my child’s high school – partly due to his decision, and even more so for the fact that, HE DID NOT EVEN HAVE THE FORTITUDE TO SHOW HIS SORRY FACE at the performances. This tells me everything I need to know about him. He, to use a pun, has no class, and does not STAND BEHIND his convictions. I would have had a lot more respect for him if he participated in the after-show discussion. I think a lot of good came from it.

    I hope, for the sake of his family, that HIS job performance ratings match those Ed Koczergo got BEFORE the Mockingbird performance.

  17. butterfly says:

    What will happen with acting class next year? Please don’t take that class away from us. For most of us acting class is an escape, I know for me it’s the only part of the day that I looked foward too and the only thing that made me happy. None of Mr. K’s students want him to leave, he was an amazing teacher and I will never forget him. His students are so close to him that all the acting classes have become a family. When I heard this news today at school I was shocked. I was speechless, I would never expect Mr. K. to do anything like this, it just proves what our school has done to him and it’s a shame. I think it’s safe to say any student that knows Mr. K. loves him. He truley is one of the greatest actign teacher’s out there and no one will be able to replace him. He taught his students to stand up for what’s right and fight for it no matter the cost. I don’t understand why anyone would want to fire Mr. K. Without Mr. K. there’s no acting/theater department. You cannot just get rid of these great things. Those departments are just as important to us as sports is to athletes. Taking these departments away will be like taking football away from a football player. If acting is taken away next year a lot of people will be upset. If it’s taken away that’s tellign us that acting isn’t as important as sports, and thats wrong. We need to keep the arts in school, there’s plenty of students who look foward to acting class and will be devasted if it’s out of the school next year. I hate that Mr. K. just walked out on us like that. I feel like he betrayed us somehow, I do respect his decision, but I feel like someone we all loved as walked out of our lives and we’ll never see him again. Tons of students cried today when we found out the news, and I was one of them. I lost another person in my life today. Not jsut a person but a great man. A man that was very important in my life, and I’ll never forget about him. With the whole Mockingbird play he taught me to never give up, fight for what’s right no matter how hard it is, and no matter how little you are you can make a difference. Thank You Mr. K. for everything. Acting class will never be the same without you and no one on this earth can replace you. – B

  18. HUH says:

    To be a martyr at the students expense seems very unfair.

  19. John Boy says:

    I wish the other 199 teachers had the ability to walkout also. Maybe then the School Board would wake up and address the real problems. The number of administrators, the waste of money on outside consultants and many other things that don’t benefit students needs to end. Administrators making 3 and 4 times the salary of a teacher is just wrong. We have spent more money every year on education without any marked improvement, simply because the money is being wasted. Eliminate the salary of School Board Members and we’ll proably get better qulified people who really want to serve the students rather than the politicians we’re stuck with.

  20. DLr46 says:

    Its quite simple to me as with all politics the best and the poor are treated like 3rd class citizens The entire administrations and school board need to be replaced just like Gov Scott these people will make Florida residents 3rd class citizens with no rights, This country was founded on a rebellious spirit and now Politicians both on federal and state levels want to take that away , Although its a shame what Mr K has done I applaud him for standing up for that rebellious spirit that we have lost. This should be a wake up call for all. More voices need to be heard and stand up no matter what the sacrifice its for The greater good of all because If not these people will take everything away then it will be to late.

  21. Palmtree says:

    5 assistant principals??? Lets start cutting here first. How many other multi positions administrators does the school system and county have?

  22. Val Jaffee says:

    ” Eliminate the salary of School Board Members and we’ll proably get better qualified people who really want to serve the students rather than the politicians we’re stuck with.”

    Brilliant! This alone will pay for at leat 3 much needed teachers.

  23. Lisa Gardella says:

    Just a comment here so it is not forgotten, is that Mr. K was also facing some health issues. Having also just gone through a stressful time of “job insecurity” recently, I can understand how the undercurrent of discontent in the higher ranks takes a drastic toll on one’s health and well being. Being blamed for things that you didn’t do or accused of things as Mr. K endured during the ‘mockingbird’ ordeal took a toll. When the show was a wonderful triumph and success, being hit with a letter (even though generic, no less traumatic) of non-renewal had to be a low point. What I’ve heard as a parent of one of the actors and a friend of many of the cast, is that the kids love him enough to put his health and well-being above thier desire for him to continue to be thier teacher, which is commendable.
    My prayer is that the school would wake up and start valuing the performing arts as much as their “sports” heros. These kids are just as much “star players” in the school as anyone else, putting in 110% into this extracurricular activity. And what kind of support do they get? Like others have said, where was Mr. Oliva when they had the council after mockingbird? Why isn’t there more promotion from the school when they put on these tremendous performances? Having seen Mockingbird, it rivaled any adult community theatre performance– for the moment I forgot I was watching a high school play and that Atticus Finch was an 18 year old kid. He was an adult actor on stage, as well as Bob Ewell (Shawn), who also gave an outstanding performance.
    Most importantly, I have seen the gift of a great teacher in Mr. K. He has literally transformed the personalities of many of these students (my daughter, Leana is one of them). They have become individuals of independant thought and articulation, of passion and promise. This is rare, when a teacher can draw this out of kids. And its valuable, enough to give him incentive to keep at it, not pull the chair out from under him. I think the school should beg him to come back and give him incentive to do so as I’m sure they would if it were a winning football team rather than a group of actors.

  24. LivingInReality says:

    Wow, this is one pitiful and vengeful school district. I feel sorry for any teacher that tries to do what is right and then gets stabbed in the back. These administrators will do what ever it takes to keep total control over their little fiefdoms, with the superintendent and school board looking down from their palace. If an administrator has a problem with you they find a way to force you to leave including making up accusations and lying about how many students have signed up for your class. I guarantee you that there would be a new theater teacher at FPC next year even if they say that they don’t have the money for one now. They just want to get rid of anyone who stands up to the ruling class of administrators and their followers.

  25. Ed Koczergo says:

    Hey “butterfly,” who are you? I am “” 260-444-8655. Let’s talk.

    Your post captures the essence of this insanity with our school system.

    If you are my student, and I think you are, please let me know.


  26. Leana G says:

    We, as students, are the ones directly affected by this. Those who post judgmental and hurtful things toward Mr. K, obviously do not know this incredible person. He would not leave us unless he had no other choice. And I fully believe that close-minded people forced him into that choice. He has been continually hounded for his decisions since Mockingbird. And where were those student safety issues Oliva insisted there would be when he canceled our show? There were none. Mr K. is a professional and never should have been questioned. He knew exactly what he was doing but instead of being treated like a professional he was shut down and in constant worry of his job. He is a man that is not afraid to stand up for what is right. And he did that for us in the cast of Mockingbird.

    We all stepped out of that theater changed for the better. And it would have never happened if he hadn’t fought. He knew there was injustice. And he knows there still is. And because he stood up his job was in danger. I fully respect his decision although I am still heart broken by it. He is not rebellious. He’s a revolutionist. And he is my friend. And my mentor. And a man I will always look up to.

    Mr. K is greatly loved by all of his students. And will be greatly missed.

  27. gmemom says:

    Chances are, with the budget shortfalls, Mr. Koczergo is right and he would not have been hired next year in order to secure a less expeperienced /less costly teacher.

    However, a two week notice or at least a chance to call in a sub is just polite.

  28. w.ryan says:

    I am saddened! Here it is again! The attack on education. This is outrageous. Rick Scott? Governor? Unfortunately this is what we get. Fiscal responsibility is a sham placed on the backs of our youth and less fortunate. Keep our teachers employed. Tax breaks to Corporations and to the rich doesn’t cut it! I hope to God we find a way to make things right for us and our children! Art is extremely important. Too bad it’s the first to go. Best of luck to you Mr.K. Your presence here has been a blessing. It certainly is our loss!!!

  29. Joe says:

    I would of had some kind of respect for this guy if he didn”t leave his students hanging, is it really about the students Ed, or is it more about Ed??? Its supposed to be about the kids and thier education,but leave em hanging, cmon!!

  30. Thinkforyourself says:

    This teacher quit! He quit! He walked out on over 150 students and a number of projects in process. He did that to his students. IF he did it for health reasons than by all means he should have. But this sounds like a DIVA move. No two weeks notice, not even a week, just walked out. He got a letter, it sounds like he was just one of many that got the same exact letter. Obviously, admin had an issue with how he went about the Mockingbird Issue but the students proved that they could rise above it and it all worked out. I bet his job would have been fine. He most likely got a reminder during that meeting that there is a protocal to follow as his performance for the year was reviewed. None of the 180 got a pass, if they were an annual employee they got the letter. He QUIT! This community, his students and maybe even some board members would have rallied around him if his termination wasn’t addressed but he quit – abruptly leaving his students blowing in the wind. I

  31. emile says:

    It’s gratifying to see the support that the students and community have shown Mr. K. He is a very gifted teacher and has inspired his students.

    However, he did quit. And in the middle of the day, in the middle of the semester. What will all these students do now? Does the school have a substitute drama teacher waiting in the wings?

  32. Judy Vanderoef says:

    The last two comments really say it all.

    It’s awful that teachers got those letters. It cannot be a good feeling for any of them – not knowing if they will have a job. But what is this teaching the students? They are defending this man because they believe he is righteous. But the way he left was wrong and they need to know that.

  33. Laura says:

    The fragility of the high school years can be an inwardly frightful thing for students.
    The Drama Dept. is a creative outlet for many and a place to find sure footing in a sea of uncertainty.
    Kids attempting academics in an environment that seems to be full of adult drama
    seems rather toxic to me.
    Teachers teach and Board Members set vision, but more so,
    they are living examples to the watching eyes of those in their charge.

    It is tragic if even one student is t-boned by this adult crash.
    I hope they will be able to rise above these antics
    and soar
    …students & adults alike.

    {{* *}}

  34. Shawn-Michael says:

    He did not wrongfully leave, ms.Vanderoef and to all others. He understood what was being thrown at him and he did not appreciate it. Obviously Mr. Koczergo did not want to deal with the pressure of being ridiculed and the likely hood of losing his job. Walking out on the school is perfectly acceptable, and a perfectly reasonable act. Think to yourself for a moment. What would you do if you were in a position like this, knowing that your very unlikely to get your job back, being ridiculed, and having to deal with the fact that all FPC administration supports is sports, and that your department is always overlooked. Well I vow to change how the Fine arts is looked at in my two years of school left.
    And also dont judge people for what they do, ecspecialy if you dont know them.

  35. One of the 177 says:

    As one of the 177 teachers who received the letter, I feel as if I should comment.

    Teachers sign a contract each year stating that we will work from the day school starts until the day it ends. I gave my word that I will teach my students, and I will. I will discuss with my Union Leaders and my Principal any and all options. But I will NOT leave my students. If I have a health issue, I will prepare substitute plans for another teacher to come into my classroom and do what they can do. But I will NOT leave my students. I am a Teacher. I Teach. I do not leave. I teach my students how to deal with the situation – how to fight for what is right – how to deal with Life. I do not leave them. I Teach them.

  36. Judy Vanderoef says:

    Shawn-Michael – I just want you to know that I have two daughters who were very involved in drama and music and appeared on the FPC stage many times. The older one is working on her Doctorate in Vocal Performance and the younger one is graduating with a BFA degree in Music Theater in May. I believe the Arts are invaluable and have fought for many years to make sure that they received the same recognition and money as sports and other activities. And as far as judging Mr. Kozcergo, I believe he was wrong in what he did. He had my vocal support on here during the whole Mockingbird situation. Please read One of the 177’s comment. I believe that is the correct way to respond. However, I respect your opinion and support you in your fight for the arts.

    I was in a position years ago where I felt that morally I needed to leave a job (at Indian Trails School, btw). I gave two weeks notice.

  37. Taylor P. says:

    Thank God for Mr. K.

    It’s obvious that many of the hurtful comments are spit by people who haven’t had the -pleasure- of being around Mr. Kozcergo for any length of time. I find it appalling that anyone can judge this man’s character, blindly, after everything he’s done for the community through theatre. Not only has he united us, the students, but also Flagler County! It doesn’t matter whether he left two weeks notice, three weeks notice, a month. He left on his own terms, and it’s disrespectful to slander his moral.

    Mr. K is, in one word, a character. The fact that so many of his students are loyal to the end is an example of this. He doesn’t lie, nor ‘beat around the bush’. Mr. K shoots you straight but has a certain finesse. I’m terribly upset the short period of time I’ve known him has come to a sudden end and seeing some of these comments causes hurt that only his students can understand. I support his decision completely and harbor no ill-will. Your drama class was the last I picked for elective and the one that I look forward to the most everyday.

    <3 Thank you for everything you do, Mr. K! We miss you bunches!

  38. seaturtle33 says:

    I do not know this teacher, but he has earned my respect. It seems to me that he knew his limits and took the steps he needed to maintain his health and wellbeing. He also stood up for what he believed in and left with his dignity. He does not deserve our criticism, he deserves our applause.

    On a side note, I am quite surprised that more teachers have not left and done the same. Teachers are under so much stress and held accountable for everything, all with little if any respect or value from anyone. The state of education here is deplorable and there is no end in sight.

    I wish Mr. K. all of the best.

  39. Jojo says:

    This is a perfect example of having no loyalty but with the shoe on the other foot we’re not supposed to usurp our rights. Remember, this is a right to work state and you have a right to quit any time you want. My motto, beat them before they beat you. This state sucks when it comes to working and your rights. I wish all the teachers would march in this state but there are too many backstabbing rednecks.

  40. Ed Koczergo says:

    seaturtle33….Thank you….that was a damn fine thing to write!

    And Jojo, if you lead the march, I’ll walk beside you!

  41. Patrick Pielarz says:

    I am currently a sophomore in Flagler Palm Coast High School, an Acting 2 student (cast member for ” To Kill a Mockingbird), and a Student of Mr. K. Words simply cannot come close to the evaluation my feelings, class is not the same will not be the same ever its that simple. I miss him a lot, he encouraged me and helped me fulfill my potential not only as a actor but as a student and a human being. I have lost a father just 2 weeks short of one year and a good fatherly figure was needed in my life and he was there for that. As most student of my age range or even generation. School is not considered an event or activity greatly looked froward to. I at times would disagree, due to my acting class. That class at some point being one of few is not the only class i looked forward to during the school day. As an educator this teacher put his heart and soul into what he did (not many teachers do that). He will be greatly missed forever. As the principle stated The drama Dept. Has Reached A new level through him. i just wish i could follow in his footsteps and be a fraction of a good person like him. I would never have thought the resignation of a teacher would have an impact on me like this… The School System is losing a valuable teacher and person!!!!!!!!!!! I just hope they realize that……………………..

  42. Jojo says:

    Thanks Ed, it would be a pleasure sir.

  43. Donna De Poalo says:

    Perhaps it is time for the Flagler Playhouse to pay a director and hire Ed Koczergo.

  44. jon weaver says:

    This is a teacher who really cared about people. Last year he helped me. He didnt have to but he did. I will always be very greatfull to Mr. K for what he did for me during my sophmore year at FPC. FPC is a great school with many great teachers. Mr. K. you will be greatly missed.

  45. Patrick Pielarz says:


  46. Liana G says:

    I don’t know Mr K. but I was/am very impressed and trilled with what he did with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and for this I am grateful.

    Though the parent in me would have wanted to stuck it out to the end – personal feelings aside, and doing it for the kids – the situation presented would have been the determining factor.

    Given my personal experience with this school district and given the drama that Mocking Bird created. I am prone to believe that Mr K. got the Tom Robinson treatment.

  47. Jim Guines says:

    Your insight is what happened, Mr. K became the Mockingbird!!

  48. TENIYAH C says:

    I have known mr.k for 3 years now. and he has become more than a teacher to me. he has become my mentor. he taught me so much more than any teacher at FPC will be able to. And even tho I cried when I heard the news(as did many other students) I am forever thankful for what he taught us and the sacrifices he has made. And I thank him for being one of the few teachers who cared, really cared. What he did with Mockingbird was something NO TEACHER in palm coast will be able to do, at least not for many many years. In my opinion…’s FPC’s loss.

    And as far as changes go, since Flagler insist we make so many changes, how about we start with the man in charge of FPC. Just saying!

  49. FPC Student-Class of 2010 says:

    I graduated last year from FPC. Mr. K has been recognized as one of the best drama teachers they have and it’s a shame that this happened. FPC’s Administrative staff is pretty solid. Jacob Oliva is a really great principal and to see him be bashed is ridiculous. There are more than likely quite a few teachers just at FPC alone that received that same letter. It’s not fair but it’s also not the staffs fault. It is clearly the governor’s. If you have an issue with what is going on, take it up with the governor of this state. I am glad that Mr.K stood up for him self.

  50. MH says:

    I’m interested to know whether this is the first time he received the letter stating that the would have to reapply…if his job was guaranteed in the past but now he has to reapply after this whole To Kill a Mockingbird thing it does seem a little weird. But I respect him, too many people simply sit back and take a lot of things from the administration, but he decided not to take it and leave. It’s sad that what he did won’t be that effective because I’m sure no other teachers will walk out like he did. Im told that teachers deal with a lot of “junk” that students and parents dont see. As a prospective teacher, I’m interested to see how true this.

    I think Mr. K is great! This all could have been avoided if this little bubble of a town called Palm Coast would have just allowed him to direct the show from the very beginning. We read in English, and we watched the movie! So ummmm why couldn’t they put on the show??


  51. BadSchools says:

    The actions of this very “shady” school system will do what ever they want or think to get rid of a teacher that makes waves. They will use funding as reason for not rehiring a teacher, in this case if there is not enough money for a theater teacher then they should cut the program entirely, If they can use funding as an excuse to get rid of someone then the will say that not enough students have signed up for the class, but still have the class the next year with a different teacher, or the will make accusations against a teacher to fire them. They will do what ever it takes to get their way even if it includes ruining someones life.

  52. MH says:

    Bad Schools I agree with you. Unfortunately in a small town a person can have an amazing reputation, or a crappy reputation. There’s really no middle ground. Mr. K decided to go agasint the norm, and you see what happened.

  53. Mckenzie says:

    A students view:

    Hey, I just wanted to let everyone know that… none of you have an opinion in the matter. Unless you are a student or a supporter you don’t have any business giving your two cents. If you have never set a foot into the classroom Mr.K brought all of us(his students) into then you have no idea who this man is and what he did for his students. Yes, he did walk out. What would you have done? I can probably guarantee that almost all of you would have walked out in the same way. You would have felt alone, and abandoned, plus feeling that the school was ungrateful for everything you’ve done. You don’t need to thrash a teacher who you have no idea at what he did and dealt with everyday. Teachers have a hard time, could you deal with over 150 kids everyday when even though it’s high school most still act like small children? He didn’t leave his students behind! Have you ever thought maybe these kids who spend weeks upon months may need support at many of the shows that they put on and perform in? Did you EVER buy a ticket? Probably not. Exactly the point. So, basically leave Mr.K alone, I guarantee you can’t leave the mark or do the job that he was able to do everyday. I happen to love Mr.K and I think that a lot of you just need to stop and think, I don’t see you applying for the job. So therefore, you don’t care that much about how we “abandoned” students feel huh? (;

    Have a great day! :D

  54. runningonempty says:

    Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

Leave a Reply

FlaglerLive's forum, as noted in our comment policy, is for debate and conversation that adds light and perspective to articles. Please be courteous, don't attack fellow-commenters or make personal attacks against individuals in stories, and try to stick to the subject. All comments are moderated.

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive

FlaglerLive Email Alerts

Enter your email address to get alerts.


suppert flaglerlive flagler live palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam florida
fcir florida center for investigative reporting
FlaglerLive is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization | P.O. Box 254263, Palm Coast, FL 32135 | Contact the Editor by email | (386) 586-0257 | Sitemap | Log in