Teachers arguably have one of the most difficult jobs in America. For starters, we ask them to teach specific concepts in the space of a few months to over 100 students, each with varying levels of education and learning capabilities. They are also expected to spend their free time grading, lesson planning, attending meetings, participating in extracurriculars, and responding to parent’s emails. In addition, as they work with our kids day in and day out, they are often asked to act as counselors, social workers, and behavior specialists. And at the end of it all, the pay is frankly depressing.
Still, that’s no reason to ever physically take out stress and frustration on a student. Unfortunately, one teacher at Cummings Elementary School in Shelby County, Tennessee did just that.
Tennessee Teacher Uses a Ruler as Discipline
Ciara Morgan went to pick up her daughter, Hailey Turner, aged 5, from Cummings Elementary School as usual. But instead of seeing Hailey’s adorable smiling face, she saw a big bruise around her daughter’s eye. Morgan was so shocked, she said she actually cried.
But the situation only escalated when Hailey told her mother what happened. According to Hailey, she noticed another student wasn’t following directions so she told the teacher, Ms. Lewis. Ms. Lewis reached into her desk, scolded Hailey for ‘tattletaling’ and hit her over the eye with a ruler.
Shelby County Schools labor relations confronted Ms. Lewis about the situation and received a different story. She claimed the mark on Hailey’s face was simply her eczema acting up. Following the investigation, the labor relations advisor said she believed Lewis wasn’t telling the truth.
Lewis was removed from the school and received disciplinary action according to board policy. But she returned to the classroom after only two weeks. The Tennessee Board of Education, however, is reviewing Lewis’ teaching license and the Department of Child Services is investigating further. As for Hailey, her mother decided the best course of action would be to remove her from the school entirely and continue her education at another elementary school.
Changing Our Focus
It’s awful to think that a teacher would even consider physical abuse as a way to discipline a student. There’s isn’t much room for doubt that this teacher was in the wrong. And yet, if you think about it, of all the considerate, kind, and wonderful teachers throughout America and the rest of the world, how often do people choose to focus instead on stories like this one where teachers make horrible mistakes?
There are so many amazing teachers out there who really love their students and do their best every day to really connect with each one. They teach with passion and patience and make a positive impact on children’s minds. Why don’t those incredible people get on the news, just for making a daily effort to be good teachers?
Let’s repay our teachers some by changing our focus from the anomaly to regular appreciation. Show some love to those teachers who are making a daily effort to be good educators, good people, and good friends to your kids. Give a kind note or email, pop into the classroom after school and thank them for a job well done. Sharing appreciation and positivity may not rid the world of all the dreadful teachers, but giving back to the teachers who give so much of themselves to our kids may be what keeps them teaching another year.