Archives For Teachers

Yesterday I heard on the news that the Florida school board is considering a dress code for parents when dropping their children off on school property.  I certainly agree that their should be a set of standards that the educational system expects from both their students as well as their families.  However, instituting a dress code for parents is pushing things a little too far.  I think that a letter from the principal or even the school superintendent stating that anyone working at or visiting any school within a particular school system, must wear the appropriate attire on school property.  This would include all children, parents, visitors, and staff.

It’s always best not to do things that may possibly alienate any one group or class of people. You may end up losing individuals that were willing to participate in school run activities. I certainly agree and have seen that there are parents, children, teachers and visitors that still don less than appropriate attire on school property. However, it is important that messages such as this be meant for all those utilizing the space in question.  It is not appropriate to single out any one or two groups of people.

I’m almost certain that every school has at least a set of expectations of what staff and students should and should not wear when on school property. It would also be helpful to remind families as well as staff via a seminar on “How adult behavior affects child behavior”, highlighting things such as dress, vocabulary, and behavior.  All of these things are important as they can cause friction within the students peer relationships as well as how students interact with adults who they may have little or no respect for because they too don’t dress or act appropriately. These types of problems are not usually just occurring based on daily family life, it’s based on daily interactions altogether.

Sometimes when you sit in the big seat it is easier to assume that parents are the only problem, but if we are all honest with ourselves, we will realize that problems as big as these may be caused by all of us.

Recently, Carol Thebarge lost her job as a long-time substitute teacher.  She refused to unfriend her students from her Facebook account.  The school policy of Stevens High School in Claremont, NH has a very strict policy against communicating with students via social media.  Read the story by clicking here.

I have to say I disagree with the school’s policy.  I am the proud parent of 6 children.  When social media first came about I was really concerned for my children and whether I would be able to keep them safe.  The truth is, like everything else in life, you have to use safety measures. Be strict about your child’s usage of the internet and educate them as to its proper use and what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.  Then be sure that you check what your children are doing.  Let them know that you are not spying on them, and be clear about the fact that you are just trying to keep them safe.  Let them know up front exactly what you are doing and why.  I find that being up front about what is going on builds trust between parent and child.  Making them feel a part of the situation is key. But just as important is letting them know you trust them and that you are watching out for them is important. Kids are less likely to make mistakes or allow others to mistreat them if they know that they have support from an adult that they trust.

Technology is a blessing, but it can also be a curse.  But not allowing our children to use it when it benefits them would be a waste of valuable resources.   I think it’s great that a student could potentially be on Facebook and chat with their teacher if they get on their homework.  If a student missed the homework assignment for the day, they can see the tweet on twitter.  There are so many ways social media can help our children. It is our job as parents to keep our children safe.  It’s not easy and we are not perfect, mistakes will be made.  Whether it be social media, the phone, or an event outside of the house things will occur that we as parents aren’t always able to handle.  Mistakes will be made but realistically, no one is perfect all the time. We can continue to be vigilant, at least then we know we are trying, and we are working on whatever needs to be worked on.

One last note: Just as all parents should be offered every possible resource to help them raise their children, every teacher should have access to every resource that will make their job easier in teaching our children.

Student recorded incident on video

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — A New Bedford teacher who had a chair thrown at her by a student now says her job is in jeopardy.

Watch the full report

High school teacher Joanne Maura said she received a letter from administrators telling her she failed to preform her “responsibilities as a teacher at New Bedford High School” and could be terminated.

“I feel like I’ve been assaulted again,” she said.

The letter said she did not inform the administration of the nature, details and severity of the incident.

Marua told NewsCenter 5 that after the student threw the chair at her, other teachers ran to the room, along with an administrator and the school resource officer.

Another student in the classroom was recording the outburst and posted it on YouTube.

Maura said she took the student’s phone away during class and he began yelling at her to return it.

The video shows the student pick up the chair and hurl it toward the teacher.

It smashed against her desk.

The superintendent would not comment on the details of the investigation.

Carol Thebarge worked more than 30 years in school system

Stevens High School

CLAREMONT, N,H, — A popular teacher said she was dismissed Thursday from Stevens High School in Claremont after she refused to unfriend her students on Facebook.

Carol Thebarge, who taught for more than 30 years in the Claremont school system, said a school administrator gave her an ultimatum to remove all students she was friends with on Facebook or be dismissed.

Those of you who know me and my philosophy in life, that of marching to the beat of my own drummer, would assume I would choose the latter of the two choices.
And I did,” Thebarge said in a Facebook post Thursday.

Thebarge said administrators first approached her four years ago about deleting her students as friends on Facebook before issuing what Thebarge called an ultimatum recently after a fellow teacher, 29-year-old Christopher LeBlanc, was accused of sexually assaulting a student in a classroom.

Thebarge vowed to keep in touch with her students despite her dismissal.

I will continue to stay in touch with all of them here. No man or institution will dictate my relationships here, or otherwise that are within the range of my own consciousness. This is not rebellion. It is standing up for my beliefs… for silence and compliance is agreement,” Thebarge wrote in the Facebook post.

WMUR-TV has attempted to contact Claremont school administrators but they have not responded.

Teacher has been target of past slurs

AMHERST, Mass. — A black math teacher at Amherst Regional High School has again been the subject of racist graffiti.

The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that graffiti intended for Carolyn Gardner was on a wall in the boy’s bathroom at school.

Sonji Johnson-Anderson, who says she is Gardner’s sister, says they are hurt and bewildered. She says the community should pressure school administrators to end the graffiti.

An anonymous tip line has been set up on the high school’s website.

Racist graffiti was left in a bathroom in October and on Gardner’s classroom door.

On March 24, a racial slur intended for Gardner was left in a girls’ bathroom.

Principal Mark Jackson says an individual was found responsible for one of the incidents and punished.

Richard Koster accused of assaulting boy

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — A Rhode Island teacher has been arrested on allegations he assaulted a student for eating a cookie in the classroom.

Richard Koster, 49, of Cranston, turned himself in to police Thursday and was charged with misdemeanor assault after authorities obtained an arrest warrant.

Police say Koster teaches at Slater Junior High School in Pawtucket and assaulted the 13-year-old boy March 18.

Authorities say the boy claimed Koster lifted him off the floor, pinned him against a wall and yelled at him, after catching him eating a cookie. Police say Koster got upset after another student told him the boy made a face at him after he told the boy it’s against the rules to eat in class.

Koster and his lawyer didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Friday.

FALL RIVER, Mass. — School officials announced revised school safety protocols at all elementary schools following a highly publicized incident two weeks ago at Mary Fonseca Elementary School during which two kindergarten students walked out of the building unnoticed during the school day.

The Herald News reported Wednesday that Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown outlined the revised protocols in a report released today. The report also included a timeline of the incident based on conducted interviews and previous reports obtained from the school and Fall River police.

Mayo-Brown’s latest report calls for consistent procedures at all schools, including requiring that prekindergarten to second grade students walk to and from the nurse’s office with an adult.

“At no time may students younger than second grade travel within the school without adult supervision,” the new procedures state, including errands to the office or to other classrooms.

Older students may visit the nurse accompanied by another student, “provided the classroom teacher first notifies the nurse. Likewise, the nurse will notify the classroom teacher when students are to return.”

Classrooms must utilize a sign-in and sign-out procedure. And students must travel “with a pass that clearly designates their intended purpose.”

Mayo-Brown called for substitute teachers to be thoroughly briefed on procedures for maintaining student head counts, as well as transitions and visits to the nurse.

Both the building principal and substitute teacher are to sign a document indicating the review has taken place.

Mayo-Brown notes in her report that door alarms for all elementary schools are available, and cost $30,000.
Those door alarms would sound when an unauthorized exterior door opens during the school day.

In addition, signs would be placed at those doors to deter students. Elementary school principals would then be expected to conduct safety drills regarding the use of emergency exits.

A substitute teacher was in the kindergarten classroom on March 5, Mayo-Brown reported. One of the students requested to go to the nurse for the third time, and a second student was “randomly selected to accompany the first student as a ‘buddy.’”

After going to the nurse’s office, the nurse examined the first student for arm pain, saw no visible bruise or swelling, but determined because it was the student’s third visit that she should go home. The nurse told the students to go back to class and said she would contact the first student’s mother.

They went from the nurse’s office to the main office. At this point, just before 1 p.m., the mother of the first student had not yet been contacted.

The students were instructed to go back their classroom at this point but reportedly did not return.

The nurse contacted that the first student’s parents at 1:14 p.m. But, according to Mayo-Brown’s investigation, the students had apparently exited the building before that phone call was made.

They left via the door located near the kindergarten classrooms.

Another fifth-grade student, a sibling of the second student, reported to the classroom, because she was also a volunteer classroom helper.

She asked on the whereabouts of her younger sister, with the teacher responding that she was absent. The sibling informed the teacher that it was not true. At that point, a search began. Fonseca Principal Teri White was alerted and radioed all staff around 1:20 p.m.

The mother of the first student reported to the school at approximately 1:25 p.m. and was informed that her student was missing.

White, after learning that one of the students had asked to leave school grounds earlier that day, began searching for students outside of the school in her personal vehicle.

The office clerk alerted police at 1:44 p.m.

The students walked around the rear of the school, to Wall Street, Tobin Street, onto Beattie Street — a nearly 10 minute trip, according to Mayo-Brown.

A woman, referred to as Citizen 1 in Mayo-Brown’s report, was interviewed Monday.

She stated she saw the girls walking on Beattie Street, near Johnson Street.

She then exited her vehicle, approached the students and reportedly asked them where they were going. She was informed, “to their dad’s” as they had lost their mom on the walk back from Burger King.

After a brief conversation, she drove them to an address on Chavenson Street, where it was discovered that the parents were not home.

The woman audio recorded her conversation with the students, asking them why they were alone and not wearing coats. The second said her mother’s name and address and told the woman where she worked.

The woman informed them that she knew her mother and said she was going to call, although not doing so immediately. Instead she took the girls to the Dunkin Donuts shop on Milliken Boulevard, and staff alerted police of the girls’ whereabouts at that time.

Mayo-Brown addressed the status of Fonseca’s surveillance camera system at that point, explaining why there was no available surveillance footage of the incident.

The digital video recording system had been serviced in September 2013, with a second service call placed in December, which is when the system was deemed inoperable. A replacement was supposed to be found and installed, however it wasn’t installed until March 8, three days after the incident.

Keri LaFleur, the mother of one of the two students who had left the building that day, seemed mostly satisfied with the superintendent’s response to the incident.

Some of the protocols being enacted at the city’s elementary schools came up during conversations with Mayo-Brown, said LaFleur, including alarming doors.

“That was a big one for me,” LaFleur said.

LaFleur added that she’s had conversations with her daughter since the incident.

She explained she’s told her daughter, “‘You don’t ever leave school again’… I think she’s gotten sick of hearing me say it,” LaFleur said. “At that age, they’re still learning. Their brains are growing every day. But it’s just so scary.”

LaFleur said she also suggested an assembly to emphasize “the safety concerns of students leaving the school. And they never should get in a vehicle with a stranger.”

LaFleur said she was also informed that some disciplinary action had been taken. LaFleur said the substitute who had been in that classroom no longer works for the district. Other details were not immediately available from School Department officials, however.

“Students that small shouldn’t be walking from classroom to classroom,” LaFleur said. “I think this incident really hit home. No parent wants to get a phone call like that. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”

Jennifer Cook killed in Syracuse crash

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island College is offering counseling to students and flying flags at half-staff as it mourns an English professor who was struck and killed by a pickup truck in central New York state.

Forty-three-year-old Jennifer Cook of Providence was walking with her mother Friday afternoon in Syracuse when the truck veered across the road and struck them. Cook died and her mother, 72-year-old Barbara Cook, remains hospitalized. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Jennifer Cook was an associate professor of English at the Providence school and taught aspiring teachers. She also was executive director of the college’s Rhode Island Writing Project, which aims to improve reading and writing across Rhode Island.

Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriulo says Cook’s death has shocked and saddened the college community.

Special education teacher Amy Harris died in 2013
SPRINGVALE, Maine — A Berwick Academy student has pleaded guilty to charges related to a fatal crash that killed special education teacher Amy Harris.

Cameron Clair,18, entered the guilty pleas to failure to keep right and being in a motor vehicle violation resulting in death on Friday in Springvale District Court. He also apologized.

Clair was not speeding or texting at the time of the head-on collision in April 2013. His attorney said that Clair had no memory of the several miles on the road before the crash and argued that he may have been unconscious because of recent concussions. But prosecutors believe Clair fell asleep behind the wheel.

Harris’ two children were also injured in the crash.

“I will forever live knowing that I killed someone’s mom, someone’s wife, someone’s daughter and many peoples’ friend. Knowing that I’ve caused so many people pain and took two kids’ mom away from them leaves me forever sorry,” Clair said.

A judge ordered Clair to spend 120 hours working with children who have autism, which was Harris’ specialty. His license was also suspended for two years and he will have to pay a fine.

School district investigating
Mom demands answers after girls walk out of kindergarten class

The Fall River School District superintendent is investigating how two kindergartners walked out of school in the middle of the day.

FALL RIVER, Mass. — The Fall River School District superintendent is investigating how two kindergartners walked out of school in the middle of the day.

“Furious, extremely,” said Keri Lafleur, whose daughter, Alivia, and a friend left Mary L. Fonseca Elementary unnoticed Wednesday. “The school and myself, we were searching lockers everywhere and didn’t know if they were in the school or off the property.”

She raced to the school when she was notified her daughter was missing.

The girl’s sister was the one who noticed the kindergarteners were gone and told teachers.

A family friend finally found the girls walking a few blocks from school, but that was an hour after the massive search began.

“She had found them walking down the street a couple of blocks away from the school. This was already over an hour after they were already missing,” Lafleur said.

Alivia’s mother said she was scared because neither of the girls were wearing jackets.

The girls were found unharmed.


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