Teachers meet code
In 1955 David Miller started his teaching career at South Tahoe Middle School. He wore a tie. Forty-four years and countless students later Mr. Miller is still teaching and he still wears a tie, but whereas his dress habits were the norm in the ’50s, in 1999 Miller’s attire sets him apart.
“We don’t really have a written dress code for teachers and administrators,” explained South Tahoe Middle School Principal Mike Greenfield. “But there are appropriate and inappropriate things to wear to work.”
Carson City’s school board is struggling with that very concept. The board is reviewing a dress code proposal for the district’s teachers and administrators that would discourage casual wear such as blue jeans and sandals. The idea was sparked by a similar policy adopted in Las Vegas’ Clark County School District.
Neither Douglas County nor the Lake Tahoe Unified School District has a written dress code for staff, but administrators said there are still unspoken requirements.
“There is an unwritten rule that you come to work in appropriate attire. The staff is obviously required to wear acceptable business attire,” said LeAnne Kankel, director of human resources for Lake Tahoe Unified. “There have been occasions that employees have come to work dressed somewhat inappropriately, and I know that principals have spoken to teachers on those occasions. But it is very rare, and it’s never been an issue.”
For the majority, Greenfield said his staff finds a happy medium on their own without dictates from the board.
“In six years I have maybe had to speak to people once or twice. It’s a very different type of world up here. Our teachers take our kids out to Trout Creek for projects. During the winter, they have to track around in the snow. Weather does play a role in what we do and how we do it.”
Depending on the grade level an elementary school teacher’s day could include things from a messy art project to time spent crawling around on the floor. Sierra House Principal Virginia Matus-Glenn said her staff displays good common sense in picking their work outfits.
“We’ve never had a dress code, but the teachers seem to dress appropriately for the activities of the day. A (physical education) teacher will definitely dress differently from a classroom teacher,” she said.
Carson City’s proposed rules are old news at St. Theresa Catholic School. Principal Dr. Jeannette Holmes said discussion of the school’s written dress code policy is ongoing, but firmly established.
“I believe it is important, particularly when we ask our students to wear uniforms. It sets a certain tone and fosters respect between the teachers and students,” Holmes said.
The school’s code states: “Teacher and staff should dress professionally, reflecting the importance and dignity of the mission of our school. Teachers set the tone for the school and their attire should reflect professionalism.”
Holmes said women are required to wear nylons with skirts and dresses, and items such as shorts, sports clothes, and sandals are not acceptable. The Carson City draft also requires nylons and frowns on shorts and skirts more than four inches above the knee, sports clothes, tight fitting fabrics, and clothes that expose a person’s midriff would also be deemed inappropriate.
Written code or not, Mr. Miller’s students can expect to see him professionally dressed every day.
“I dress accordingly. I’ve noticed that the younger generation tends to dress more casually,” he said with no censure. “I just enjoy wearing a tie. … I have the big fat ties, the skinny ties and even a hand-painted flamingo tie.”
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