Now that I’m out, I’m invisible

Another lesson learned: when you are contributing to a school, make sure that you tell admin about every single thing you do, especially if is in a digital form that can be emailed wherever without a credit line. Sometimes even when you tell them you still get screwed.

A few months ago, I drew portraits of several students and gave them to the students as gifts. Through a series of emails, which involved my permission to publish one of the portraits (with credit) in the yearbook, this same image ended up being used in the school’s WASC report without permission nor credit. Because I was let go and not told why, I am a tad bitter. I found it highly distasteful that they would use my work in this way, showcasing how great our school and its teachers are. Especially without asking me. I sent the admin a “cease and desist” email that also asked for them to give me credit for my work. I had, in fact, told everyone about the portraits right after I had done them, so admin could not please ignorance. After a week, they did email the campus, apologized, and gave me credit.

In another example from right before I was let go, I spent hours designing a T-shirt for our “Every 15 Minutes” event this week. I received thanks from the screen printing teacher, which was great. However, admin never thanked me. And now I’ve got here in my hands a program for today’s assembly. It has my T-shirt design featured on the cover. It has a section for acknowledgments and thanks to everyone who helped make “Every 15 Minutes” happen. I’ll let you guess who wasn’t thanked. If you guessed “Dawn Pedersen”, you are correct.

What do you think I should do?

By Dawn Pedersen

Science advocate, web designer, educator, artist, and mommy.

13 replies on “Now that I’m out, I’m invisible”

Screw them to the wall, Dawn. As an art teacher, I well know the working our tails off and NEVER getting the credit and respect we so richly deserve. (But I’m not bitter…oh, no!! 🙂 haha) After a harsh lesson or two perhaps they won’t be so quick to take someone else for granted. BTW, I have enjoyed your website and was sorry to hear about what happened. Tough luck for your students being deprived of a teacher like you but perhaps it will turn out to be a blessing in disguise for you.

Compile one post about all the nonsense they’ve pulled, submit it to, and watch them drown in bad publicity.

As a fellow zombie employee, I recommend trying to distance yourself from the emotional aspects of the relationship. Come to work and do your job well, but remember that employment is only a transaction and these people are not your friends or your family.

As part of my own employment contract, anything I create on company time (software, implicitly) belongs to my company. I’m still improving things I made years ago. That still belongs to them and they can use it how they see fit and give me no credit. I’m not sure if you might have the same provision in your contract. Maybe they have included the right to be assholes about it right in your contract.

If not, and if the artwork belongs to you, try sending them an invoice.

My P.S. to all this: My good teacher friend across the hall (who was also let go, along with her husband) emailed the staff and mentioned my creation of the T-shirt design. A few teachers responded favorably. The principal mentioned my name very briefly at the end of the assembly. Which is something. But he never acknowledged what I did or thanked me personally, or even by email.

I wish (childishly) that he now realizes I shouldn’t have been let go, terribly regrets his decision, and will have to stew in it. I wouldn’t come back if they paid me twice my salary.

Oops. Post-post script. I ran into a friend I went to high school with. She is now a Sheriff Chaplain, and attended the assemblies. She’s been doing Every 15 Minutes for 9 months now at a variety of schools in the area. After the heckling and disrespect she saw today and yesterday, she says this is the worst school she’s been to in all this time.

Hi Dawn,

I am a first year ROP instructor in Commercial Art in a rural area in CA, and I want you to know how invaluable your honesty and your wonderful website have been to me. I really appreciate your dedication, hard work, and creativity, it has really helped me through my first year here.

I have encountered a similar experience with most of my highschoolers. Many come from backgrounds where they were never taught to be respectful or work hard, so they do not have those basic skills. I also cannot believe some of the things they say to a teacher, and I am appalled at the fact that at this stage they cannot even fill out a simple form or write a simple letter. The school here is very small, though, and the admin very supportive, so I am one of the lucky ones I suppose.

As for doing work on your own time, I have found in my years of experience that,unfortunately,in many situations one really has to “toot your own horn” to get recognition. My suggestion would be to invoice them for the work. They probably won’t pay you, especially with all the budget cuts, but at least you’ll have a paper trail that states this is your work. You can also deduct this time and effort of no pay as volunteer time on your taxes, if nothing else.

My suggestion is to let the anger empower you in your future. Unless you are going to become a leader for art teacher rights, educational change,or head a teachers union, I would say… move-on and do great things.

All the best to you, Dawn.

I have to say you are one of the most talented teachers and designers that I have ever seen. Your stories as a teacher in a school are typical -unfortunately, of how they can “be”. I am shocked that anyone would LET you go!!! I envy your talents and aspire to be able to share with students what you have to offer. My best to you in whatever you choose to do have my recommendation.
Will keep in touch.


Your Class Website is the best I’ve ever seen (I’ ve been teaching Web Design and Office Applications for 8 years) I think you’re a talented artist and teacher and hope this slap in the face by your school doesn’t keep you from inspiring kids.

I am sorry to hear you are leaving just as I am beginning- still looking for that first position. My degree is k-12 art education, and have used your website as a resource in my student teaching. Can you say where you taught? If not specifically, then vaguely?

i understand. i reached out to you a couple years ago as a new design teacher. after 2 years for late nights and tons of t-shirts, i too was “displaced” for a teacher with more time at the school but no design experience. very little thanks. now at middle school teaching art. i feel more appreciated. want to look for future opportunities.

i know how you feel. i was displaced in january of this year. it’s like being told you’re fired but still have to come to work for the next 5 months. i was lucky to have such great students.

good luck. i hope we hear more from you in the future.

I have a BA degree but not art-related major and want to get art
ed credential. I’ve been recently taking some 1drawing, 1sculpture, 1painting, 2 art history
classes at community college.
I want to start studying for Art CSET exam but don’t know what/where to study from. (I don’t have any knowledge in art…) Will you please let me know how to prepare
for CSET single subject in art?
(Again, please consider that I wasn’t an art major so I need to know from the very basic….) thanks for your time.

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