An Open Letter to THAT Teacher…

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Dear “THAT” Teacher,

My daughter came home from school the other day to tell me that you were in pretty big trouble.  As she unfolded the rumor spreading like wild fire from the school, I shook my head but hardly in disbelief.  Why?  Because, your story is becoming all too common.  You are one of the many reasons why my homeschooling friends do not trust the public school system.  You are the evidence that even a “uniform school’s dress code” won’t keep our children from being objectified.  You are the reason my daughter is worried about her grades right now (13 days before the end of the school year) because instead of doing your job, you were busy entertaining a relationship with one of your students.

Every day, I send my children to school for an education.  I pay for the articles of clothing that fit into a particular dress code, in order to ensure our children are modest and not drawing attention to themselves in a way that is distracting.  I entrust my daughters into the hands of trained educators who are more than aware of the ramifications of having any inappropriate relationships with their students.  I entrust my children into the hands of educators who are supposed to protect them.  And, I do not blame any of the teachers who actually did their jobs as described.  In fact, I applaud the teacher who called you a pervert… among other choice phrases.  It served as a reminder that not all teachers are bad, and that there are simply sick people who take advantage of situations that give them access to our children.

I don’t care that the student was graduating this year, and technically a legal adult. She was your student, and that makes this far from okay.  I don’t care that you claim to be “in love” because this was your student and “in like” should have never happened in the first place.  I don’t care that you claim it was “consensual” and she backs up your claim, because she was a student and you should have known better.  In fact, you did know better. You knew the consequences for your behavior.  You knew the consequences that would fall upon her if your relationship was discovered.  You should have been an adult and never allowed it to happen in the first place.

Now, this poor girl can’t graduate as they investigate the grades she received in your class.

Now, this poor girl walks the halls of the school knowing everyone is talking about her, as rumors have spread quickly.  Trying to avoid making eye contact with other students as she walks by and hears their whispers “Isn’t that the girl….”

Now, this poor girl who is “in love” with you is carrying guilt that she has messed up your life.   Do you even understand how WRONG that is, that she is going to carry guilt because you couldn’t do the right thing?

Now, this poor girl will be thrust into a spot light she never intended for herself.

Should she have known better?  Sure.  But she is a child, and children make childish decisions.  Which is why we count on the adults to fill that gap, and make adult decisions.  You put her future and your own on the chopping block and you can’t fix that mistake.  You took something from her, she will never gain back.  You made secret promises to her, you will not be able to fulfill.

Now, you will pay your consequences… starting with your job.   And, who knows how much more will come as the investigation continues.  Leaving many of your students scrambling to make up for your mistake so they can still graduate or pass their grade level.  Forever, when someone googles your name… you will be THAT teacher.

That teacher, who crossed the line.

That teacher, who lacked self control.

That teacher, who took advantage of a student.

That teacher, who smudges the name of the public school teachers who ARE amazing people that positively impact students every day.  But those teachers won’t make the news, because it’s your face that is going to be smeared across the news and social media.  People will talk about my daughter’s school and say “Isn’t that the school where the teacher had a sexual relationship with one of his students”. 

This is your legacy as a teacher… to be THAT Teacher.

Yes, as parents we are furious.  Yes, you should be ashamed.  And, yes… I’m not quite ready to talk about forgiveness yet.  Why?  Because I’m too busy having to talk about this subject with my middle schooler, since what you did is public knowledge … and she now has questions.

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WHAT IS YOUR LEGACY

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I have to tell you, I am a fan of the show 19 Kids and Counting.  I also think I have said this before.    I know that every family is not perfect, and I am certain that we are only shown their best moments and not their worst.  And, I am totally ok with it.  There has never been a moment in my watching this show that I had the delusion they were perfect, had it all together, and didn’t occasionally mess up.  There have been times where I have watched the show & thought to myself “I would have handled that differently”.  There are also things I have noted to use in the future for my own kids, or advise those who are coming behind me with a simple “wish I would have known”.

I also have three kids, and I am totally at peace with that.  We made the choice to pursue permanent measures, because we felt our family was complete.  It was something that was in our heart.  No regrets, total peace.   I also have friends who have families of all different sizes.  A friend with one child, because despite their best efforts to, God hasn’t blessed them with any more.   A friend with six children, and one on the way.  Friends who adopted all of their children.  Friends who birthed all of their children.  Friends who did a little bit of both.  Friends who have “adopted” a neighborhood child into their sphere of influence.  Family comes in all different sizes and different colors.

Because of this variety of family philosophies, I am also exposed to a lot of opinions.  I understand where each family is coming from and I respect our different paths.  When they post articles on their blogs, facebook pages or family websites, you’d be surprised how much of them I read.  Even when they don’t fit my family.  Probably has something to do with my life long love of learning.  Just because it isn’t for me, personally, doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn about it or understand it.  In some respects, it makes me a better friend because it gives me insight into their family.

A few months back, it was one of these postings, that stopped me in my tracks.  The general gist of the post was about family size being important because without a large family, you risk your lineage ending.  Not just a biological end, but also a spiritual end.  The author indicated that as we increase our family size, we increase the number of soldiers in God’s army.  If we are not having children, we are hindering God’s troops.  Then we were asked to look at our own family & imagine if our parents stopped having children right before us.  In other words, what if you were not born & any of your siblings after you.  The author continued to point out that in their family tree, her siblings ahead of her didn’t have any children.  So, had she not been born, her parents would have no grand children.  There would be no legacy for that family, and there would be no one from their line fighting for the faith.

I looked at my family.

My grandmother came from a sibling group of 4.    She had 2 children.  Her brother had 1 child.  The other 2 siblings didn’t have any children.  Yet the generations prior were having LOTS of kids.   The numbers were certainly dwindling.

So it would seem.  My uncle was the 1st child, he had no children of his own.  My mom was the 2nd child, and she had 3 children.

My sister… 4 children.

My brother… 2 children biologically, 1 step son.

Myself… 3 children.

Our numbers were growing.  But this isn’t about us.  This is about my childless Uncle.

By all accounts of the author of the article, my Uncle was failing.  He wasn’t leaving a legacy behind.  He wasn’t contributing to the faith by building God’s army.  He wasn’t raising any children who would share their faith with others and bring people to Christ.

Yet, my Uncle has had more impact on children than any parent I know.

In his personal childlessness, no marriage either, my Uncle had an exponential amount of time to dedicate to others.

As a teacher, administrator and fighter for education.

As a volunteer in his community, from the commission board to flag football teams.

When he visited students in prison because their bad choices landed them there.

To the families he has counseled and walked beside.

The kids who trusted and respected him, and tip their hats to him as they pass him in the mall.

No matter where I would go as a kid, we’d run into former students who knew this man.  I have never overheard anyone speaking negatively about him.

His friends who have traveled with him around the nation and the world, will tell you countless stories of encounters with former students.  Literally, around the globe.  He runs into people everywhere he goes.  From Alaska to Africa.  In airports, cruise ships and little diners in the middle of no where.

In his childlessness, my Uncle will leave a legacy that can’t be counted or calculated.  His impact will affect generations to come, because of the dedication he put into the generations that passed through his doors.

Our legacy doesn’t stop with those who live in our homes, our faith doesn’t land only on those who eat at our tables.  Our legacy, our spiritual legacy, can be measured by our impact on every person we encounter.  Day to day. Year in, year out.

Because, in the end… it’s really not our legacy.  It’s Gods.  For we are all His children.