Friday, May 14, 2010
Teachers are angels, too
As a teacher, I have been very interested in the case of Tonya Craft who was accused of molesting some of her female kindergarten students. In the two years since the police became involved, she has lost her house, her career, and worst of all, her son and her daughter. Tonya was finally found innocent on all 22 charges against her. She will need to win her children back from state custody, though. This case is very frightening. Mrs. Craft reminds us that the control of our lives is not always in our own hands. At any time, someone, anyone, can say that you have done something illegal. As I have found out in working with the state in the case of our adopted daughter who is in therapeutic foster care outside of our home, and as in the Craft case, child abuse and molestation cases are acted upon first, then investigated, not investigated and then acted upon.
Although I can clearly see the reason for swift action in protecting children, you wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a false report. Over my many years as a teacher, there have been a few children who have gotten angry at me and have gone home and told their parents that I have said this or that or did this or that
when in reality I had not. A boy handed me a note from his mother once that stated in no uncertain terms that "I was never to touch her boys head again or action against me would be taken." I had no idea as to what instance the note was referring. "When did I touch your head?" I asked the boy. "Oh, you didn't," he said. "Another teacher called me a good boy and messed up my hair with her hands." All I could do was shake my head and walk away. The note had really scared me, and it wasn't even for me, and the age-old habit of the elderly to mess up your hair while giving a compliment was now the act of a villain!
I have a secondary education degree, but way before I got that I worked in a fabulous high school. During college, I worked in an elementary school. Both had their share of problems, but my experiences there were great overall. For the five years I have had my degree, I worked in junior high. And as you may have already read in my profile, I am taking "a rest." Just a few years after spending so much on a degree, I already have a tic, or two, or three. It is as though I have emerged from the trenches of a war in which I daily dodged drastic dangers (see, I'm an amusing teacher who even knows how to use alliteration!). These dangers involved kids who made hit lists and brought knives and guns to school, but worst of all, would not hesitate to accuse a teacher of saying or doing the wrong thing to stay out of trouble or to get revenge.
I hope Mrs. Craft is able to restore the mess that has been made of her life. Teachers that have done evil against children need to be prosecuted, but angels who love children enough to work as teachers for less than my daughter makes from her monthly restaurant tips are needed in our schools without the constant fear that at any moment their world could come crashing around their ears. If you have any doubts as to how difficult it is to teach, I challenge you to substitute a day or two at your local junior high. Don't call me from jail, please.