My Alma Mater

My high school alma mater is currently going through a bit of a crisis.

A female teacher was fired after a parent read the teacher’s mother’s obituary.  In the obituary the teacher listed her female partner.   The anonymous parent wrote a complaint and the teacher was fired.

It has garnered much attention nationally.

The debate is heated.   Sides are taken.

I have read comments to the articles written.  And there are many for each article and video posted.   I get that every one has an opinion and I admire everyone who expresses their opinion with respect and couth.

I read one comment from a graduate who said they are ashamed to have ever attended this school.

I don’t agree with the firing.

But I’m not ashamed of the school I attended.

Why?

Because obviously, though the party responsible for the firing does not demonstrate it, the school is doing a fine job of teaching their students about love and compassion, and yes, acceptance.

The first I heard of the firing came as a posting from my niece with a petition to sign in support of the fired teacher.   I searched the news for what was going on.  And I found quite a bit of news.   And opinion.  On the very first day of the reporting.   I signed the petition and passed it on.

Though the school did the firing,  a large part of the school’s student body and graduated student bodies of past, are spear heading the support for the teacher.

There is no shame in that.

Much of the argument is that the teacher broke (I paraphrase) the contract she would have signed at the beginning of her employment.

I’m not writing about the politics of this.

I’m writing about the school and what it teaches, and what it taught when I was there.    It taught compassion.  It taught community service.  It taught the Catholic faith.  And I have heard in my parochial education more than once:   hate the sin not the sinner.

Whatever that sin may be.

But the interesting thing is, my alma mater is not a “building”.  It isn’t a book or a classroom.

My alma mater is made up of the students I went to school with.  And the teachers who taught me.  Teachers, some like this fired teacher, who were gay.   And those gay teachers?  We knew.   Not because they told us.  Not because they would ever have discussed their personal preferences with us.  But we knew.  And didn’t care.  And apparently neither did the administration.  Because the teachers we had, like this fired teacher, are the ones who taught us compassion, community service, the Catholic faith.

I find it interesting that her coworkers did not write that letter.   Her  nineteen years worth of students did not write that anonymous letter.  The administration did not write that letter or confront her with this.       And I find it hard to believe that not a one of them knew she was gay.

I suspect out of the thousands that are supporting the teacher, many are very faithful to their Catholic religion.  And though they may not agree with homosexuality, they know not to hate the person.  They were taught by their teachers to be compassionate, to be accepting and to love.  Like Jesus did.

I’m proud of the lessons my alma mater taught me and apparently the thousands and thousands of it’s other students.

Perhaps the Anonymous Parent, and those who fired the teacher, need to sit in some of the classes.  Taught by the teachers who taught compassion.  Acceptance.  Love.

You don’t have to approve of someone’s personal choices.

But you don’t have to discriminate against them either.

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26 thoughts on “My Alma Mater

  1. bikebrown says:

    If this lady taught for 19 years then obviously there was nothing wrong with her classroom behavior or teaching. That’s all she should be judged on.

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    • I have not heard any negative comments at all regarding her teaching. Nineteen years at the same school. Done because ONE parent out of thousands wrote an anonymous letter. Surely the staff and administrators had read the same obituary. If one of my coworkers parents had passed I would have read the obituary to find out calling hours, funeral or place to to donate to if appropriate. And yet one “anonymous parent” sends this letter…..

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  2. I agree, that’s sad she was fired. Wouldn’t that be illegal now? It’s just mean spirited to, as she must have been grieving her mother’s death as well.

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  3. I meant the parent who complained and whomever fired her.

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  4. MyDadandI says:

    Colleen – I am so with you. You have identified the key features that make a teacher an excellent teacher: compassion and acceptance. I am stunned that there can be such a disconnect between policy and practise. Bravo for your courage to speak out about an issue that is so obviously under-toned.

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    • Thank you Stacey. There are quite a few people speaking about this now! 😉 Sadly there is now a cloud over the kids and the school. The “school” did not do this. One parent wrote an anonymous letter. One. And someone in the hierarchy fired her. The students and the teachers are paying the price. How does this happen “today”?

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Very well put. I have mixed emotions about the situation. The kids seemed to have loved her very much. She obviously was a good teacher. Isn’t that what really matters?

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    • Thank you “Someone”. I am impressed with what I have seen from current, and past, students. And I don’t think it besmirches the Catholic church or it’s teachings to have hired her, and continued to support her. Wouldn’t Jesus have hired her? Wouldn’t he have been the first to put his arm around her, comfort her in this distress, and walk with her? Thank you for being honest about your mixed emotions.

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  6. Yaz says:

    I still find it hard to believe that we are still having this conversation in this day and age. The human mind is so backward, bigoted, downright stupid, sort of baboonish. Sorry Colleen, had to vent! Good post. I hope the teacher gets some sort of compensation for the un-Christian behaviour. A withdrawal of love and acceptance is un-Christian, right? No matter what some baboon-brain added to the bible texts.

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    • Venting is okay. 🙂 I hope for her, and for everyone, that lessons are learned. How can anyone, person/agenda/entity teach love, compassion, and acceptance and not demonstrate it when they have the opportunity?

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  7. viveka says:

    Terrible – I thought there was employment laws – that stop things like this to happen. Have the whole true story been told … ???? – it seems so unreal that somebody will be fired because of one anonymous parents has complained. Feel sorry for the teacher and I would take the school to court … but her reputation is still be damaged. And people is so quick to judge.

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    • There are laws. SHe is filing suit to get her job back. She has a tremendous amount of support. And the church has much support as well. I hope for the best for her, and that she and the students and the other teachers can all heal from this. So far no one is throwing rocks at each other. I “think” the whole story is out. It will come down, most likely, to legalities and interpretations of church vs. state kind of stuff.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    In another 19 years please let me know if her replacement{s} have the same outstanding reputatuion and support of fellow teachers, students and alumni. I fully suspect her potential future students will also suffer unknowingly.

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    • It is sad. I have read the articles as they have come out and I have not read one single thing that addresses her having any issues as a teacher. So far all accounts are glowing. It is sad, that a solid and trusted teacher…is not valued because of who she loves.

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  9. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    I haven’t heard anything of this, Colleen – not a bit. I can’t believe it – cannot believe it. INcredible.

    I would really really like to hear that she gets her job back. That is unfair dismissal and needs a court case.

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  10. Wow! The thing I find most disturbing about this is that I have heard so many cases of teachers who are really doing something wrong in their classrooms but it is very hard to fire them because of unions. This lady does not deserve to be fired!

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    • I have yet to hear any one throwing mud to try and dirty the waters. So far the matter at hand is many feel she was fired unjustly, the church believes they had the right to fire her not for being homosexual but for publicly acknowledging this life style. ANd those are my words paraphrasing the events. I am sure both she and the church speak to it better than I do.

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  11. […] put in 19yrs of service at Bishop Watterson Catholic high school in Ohio before being fired. After Hale’s mother died, a parent saw Hale’s partner’s name in the obituary and wrote a letter complaining […]

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