Tag Archives: Teacher

A Good Foundation

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<blockquote>”Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Luke 6:46-49

Sunday two weeks ago (I was sick last weekend), we looked at two of the problems that face us as people who have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The first problem is that even though we are “like God” in our ability to know right from wrong, we don’t always know what the best thing is to do. Sometimes we simply do bad things, knowing they’re bad. But, more often, we try to do good, and it turns out for evil, because our perspective is too small.

In the above passage of scripture, Jesus tells us how he can help us with that problem. The earliest disciples gathered around Jesus because they recognized him as a teacher of God’s wisdom. In the Gospel of John, we are told they thought of him as God’s Word made flesh–Holy Wisdom in human form.

Today, we can read Jesus’ teachings and find the same wisdom in them that his earliest followers did. Thanks to the writers of the Gospels, we can be Jesus’ disciples and he can be our teacher, even in the 21st century. This is how Jesus helps us with one of the big dilemmas of having eaten for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Instead of being stuck with our own small wisdom, we can build on the foundations of Jesus’ teachings. We can become wise people, who build our houses on rock. A house built on rock is more likely to be built well, and the same is true of our lives. If we build our lives on the rock of Christ’s teachings, we will more consistently do good instead of evil, and our lives will be sturdier.

I’m not implying that studying Jesus’ teachings is the only way to know how to do good more consistently. There are other teachers who taught us right from wrong. The Gospels are only 4 of the 66 books of the Bible, and God has given us other wise people to whom we should pay attention. However, listening to Jesus gives us a good foundation to build upon.

Many in the LGBT community, turn away from God because their congregation or people claiming to be Christians rejected them. I think one of the greatest things my parents did was to raise me in a loving church community. Not all churches of Christ are as loving and as accepting as mine was. I’m really not for sure how accepting they would be if they knew I am gay; however, with the love I have seen in my church, I think most members of my church would accept it. They certainly would not ask for me to leave the church. I was taught a good foundation for my faith, and I believe that it is that foundation that has kept my faith strong and unwavering.


Bad Teacher

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The 2011 movie Bad Teacher was about an immoral, gold digging Chicago-area middle school teacher at the fictional John Adams Middle School who curses at her students, drinks heavily, smokes marijuana, and only shows movies while she sleeps through class. However, all of that does not compare to the story I read the other day about a South Carolina teacher.

The teacher is alleged to have bullied the student starting in early April. The student’s mother alleges that the teacher repeatedly belittled her son in front of his peers, calling him “gay,” “gay boy,” and other names. The teacher repeatedly told the student’s classmates that the student was in a homosexual relationship with another classmate, the suit states.

The mother alleges that the teacher encouraged and asked other students to pick on her son during class. She alleges that her son was made to feel that he could not report the bullying to school administration. The student was also made to feel he could not appeal to any of his classmates because of the resulting alienation and isolation that the situation created.

The student’s mother filed a lawsuit on her son’s behalf against the Charleston County School District alleging that a high school teacher bullied a male student by repeatedly telling the class that the student was gay. The unidentified student, referred to in documents as John Doe, was a student at West Ashley High School, according to the complaint.

On the West Ashley High School web site, the teacher identified in the suit is listed as a member of the math faculty. The suit against the school district says that the emotional stress created by the teacher’s conduct caused the student to become physically ill. The student attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself as a result of the bullying, according to the complaint. The student has allegedly suffered severe emotional and psychological damages and has been forced to withdraw from school. He is being home-schooled. He is also receiving mental health counseling, according to the suit.

A spokesman for the school district said he could not comment on pending litigation. The suit alleges that the school district failed to properly hire, train and/or supervise the teacher. According to the complaint, the school district’s negligence entitles the defendant to an award of past, present and future damages sufficient to properly compensate him for the pain and suffering, the mental anguish, the permanency of his injury, the loss of enjoyment of life, the alienation of his lifestyle and his past and future medical bills.

If the allegations are true, they are beyond disturbing. I’ve known of parents to complain that a teacher was “picking” on their child and treating them unfairly, and it is usually groundless because the student either perceived he was being singled out or because the student was covering for his own misdeeds. I’ve had allegations of singling out a student before, but the complaint is generally because I told the child to behave and the students reaction was, “But everyone else was doing it.” However, the allegations against this teacher goes far beyond anything I have seen before.

As a teacher (and if you’ve been reading my blog for a while) you know, that I have no tolerance for bullying of any kind. My former headmaster actually encouraged bullying saying that “it helped students conform.” Our current headmaster has a zero tolerance for bullying, which is a relief. His policy is immediate expulsion, as it should be. This South Carolina case seems even worse to me because it is the teacher, and it seems to have been taking to extremes because, most likely, the student did not “conform.” A student with bad behavior is one thing, but one who may be socially awkward or “non-conforming” in some way should never be singled out. We are all unique, and it’s one of the great characteristics of humanity. We should not be punished for our uniqueness.

Experts have linked school bullying to an increased risk for mental health problems, substance abuse and suicide. Students who are victims of bullying are also at risk for poor academic achievement on standardized tests. They are more likely to feel isolated, to participate less in school activities and to miss, skip or drop out of school, according to stopbullying.gov, a website that provides information on the issue from various government agencies. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth and those perceived as LGBT are at an increased risk of being bullied, the website says.

If the bullying by the teacher has reached such a level that the student was withdrawn from the school, had to seek counseling, and for a lawsuit to be filed, then I suspect there is a great deal of evidence to supports the student’s and his mother’s claims. I. This case, I feel, that the appropriate response from the school district should be suspension of the teacher until an internal investigation is concluded. If the allegations are true, and for some reason (i.e. personal intuition) I suspect they are true, then the teacher should be fired and his teaching credentials revoked.

I hope and pray that the allegations are false, because it is inconceivable to me that a teacher would do this to a student. Teachers are protectors of our students. Teachers are there to provide an education. Teachers are their to encourage students. What this teacher is alleged to have done is none of these. I may not like some of my students, but it is because of their apathy and misbehavior, nothing else.


Gay teachers less likely to challenge homophobia?

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Despite the ever-present challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students face at school, a new study finds that gay teachers are actually less likely to challenge bullying in the classroom than their straight counterparts out of fear for their own jobs.

As TES Magazine reports, the study comprised interviews with more than 350 teachers and school principals over how they deal with anti-gay incidents at school. The bulk of the interviewees who identified as LGBT said that not only did they not feel safe coming out at school, but they had rarely intervened when they witnessed homophobic remarks being made.

Over one-third of the teachers interviewed for the survey said they were worried their jobs would be at risk if they came out to their colleagues, while 62 percent were worried about losing their jobs if they came out to their students, according to the report.

As a gay teacher myself, I understand how other LGBT teachers might feel. Whereas, some teachers might not stand up to homophobic incidents, I do not allow any bullying or any disparaging remarks in my presence. I attempt to teach my students the golden rule. Though I might fear that it might out me to my students or that my students might perceive me as gay because of it, I don’t worry too much. Parents and students alike know that I am the one liberal teacher at the school, and so they think it is just one of my liberal diatribes when I challenge bullying in the classroom. I also tend to give them a mini sermon on the golden rule in the process.

That being said, it does not mean that my job would not be in jeopardy if my sexuality did come out. I have allies on the school board, so I might not lose my job, but it is also quite likely that I would. We can hope that one day, the sexuality of teachers will not be an issue. Currently, it is a very real threat. News of the TES Magazine report follows the case of Carla Hale, a longtime teacher at Ohio’s Bishop Watterson High School who was reportedly fired after her partner’s name, Julie, was listed among the survivors in a public obituary for Hale’s mother. In February, Purcell Marian High School Assistant Principal Mike Moroski was fired by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati after endorsing gay marriage in a personal blog post, while in 2012, music teacher Al Fischer was dismissed from his job at St. Ann Catholic School in north St. Louis County, Mo., after archdiocese officials learned he was planning on marrying his longtime partner.


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