Get the facts before you launch a social media attack
From the time I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher.
In light of society today and recent dangers posed to our schools, I honestly don’t know if I could do it now.
Regardless, I still have a huge heart for our schools and the efforts of our educators and administrators.
Teachers do an often thankless job with endless hours and invest much of their own money to make it happen for our kids. Administrators are put in a position to make decisions I would never want or wish to be presented to anyone.
I am a Galion graduate. We moved our family to Galion before my oldest started school because I felt comfortable and confident in the education they would receive. I have supported every school levy. I support the district’s plans for a new bus garage. And I send my three children to school every day trusting that while I cannot be with them, their teachers and other school staff are there to handle any situation that may occur.
Bullying and peer pressure have been around for a long time. Compound that with the dangers brought on by social media and school shootings and bomb threats, and kids are asked to deal daily with more than most parents ever faced.
Galion City Schools has not been immune. Students at Galion Middle School and Galion Intermediate School have faced three bomb threats this year. And while the students responsible have been identified, there have been lingering affects among students and the community.
Schools have it rough these days, there is no question about it.
And so do our kids.
An incident last Friday at Galion Intermediate School that involved the dismissal of a substitute teacher from a fifth-grade classroom was one of those situations.
Thankfully, my fifth-grade son was not in the classroom where this incident took place, but many of his friends were.
The details of the incident are heartbreaking. I have spoken to five families whose children were in that classroom separately. The details I heard from those families and their children about what took place inside that classroom were nearly identical.
While only one of the physical incidents between the substitute were acknowledged in news release distributed by Galion City Schools — that was the only incident caught on video as it took place in a hallway — there were four students who were forcefully grabbed by this teacher. Two ended up falling to the ground from the force of the teacher moving them around and were left with marks on their skin from that substitute teacher’s tight grip.
Understand, I am under no illusions that this classroom of 10- and 11-year-old kids behaved perfectly for their substitute teacher. I am sure at times they were a little too noisy, or pushed the limits more than usual. Most kids do this when their normal classroom teacher is gone. I remember being in a class during high school where some kids were so unkind they had the substitute in tears before the class was over.
But absolutely nothing justifies the behavior of that substitute teacher.
Even if the kids had stepped out of line and this teacher could not find a way to control the situation, the teacher could have reached out for help. The office is only a phone call away.
Putting your hands on four students so forcefully that an entire classroom of children were so frightened that they asked another teacher for help is never okay.
Frightening a classroom of students so much that they felt the need to text their parents for help is not okay.
But more disappointing to me than what happened at the school last Friday, has been the public response.
I understand the initial opinion and reaction by most that “clearly these students need to be punished for breaking the rules and using their cell phones” and “this is the result of a lack of discipline”, but that is not the case in this situation.
Kids who seek attention by making repeated bomb threats and inducing panic need discipline.
Kids who witness or experience a teacher who is out of control need help from adults.
The children who were involved in this situation are honor roll students. They are members of leadership groups at Galion Intermediate School, and are members of the the school’s Academic Challenge team. If you could pull their files at school, you would see no prior history of behavior issues and teachers who have had them previously in their classroom would welcome them back for another year.
They were not the problem, yet these kids — and their families — have been crucified on social media by people who do not know the facts.
There always are two sides to a story. I know that. But due to privacy laws, Galion City Schools is not able to release information on the teacher involved. I would welcome the opportunity to hear the perspective of this teacher in complete fairness and I would be completely objective if we spoke.
While I do not agree with every detail of how Galion Intermediate School dealt with this situation, I understand hind sight is 20/20 for everyone. I am thankful that once the situation was made known to the administration, it was handled and the school chose to put the best interests of the students first and remove the teacher from the classroom.
As a parent, that is the best outcome in such an unfortunate incident.
What is my point?
Not every situation has a one-size-fits-all answer or resolution. So before you share your one-size-fits-all opinion on social media, take a moment and ponder your words.
Or better yet, find a way to help make things better.
In the light of recent events, kids are being told or taught “if you see something, say something.”
Which is exactly what these kids did.
How can we expect them to want to communicate in any questionable circumstance if the response from adults is automatically negative?