May 28, 2008
New Albany, Ind. (The Weekly Vice) -- Just yesterday, we posted a story on 5 year old Alex, who's teacher allegedly humiliated him in front of his entire class, by allowing each student to comment about what they didn't like about him. The teacher later asked the class to vote on whether Alex should stay in the class, telling the youth that no one liked him.
Now, just a day later, a very similar story has emerged of a teacher's abuse and humiliation of another 5 year old boy, Gabriel Ross, in Indiana. This time however, the teacher was caught on tape.
Kristen Woodward, a kindergarten teacher at Ellen Jones Elementary School has been suspended after she was recorded berating 5 year old Gabriel in front of his class.
While Gabriel's parents admit that he has not been a model student. They believe the teacher decided to verbally abuse their son, instead of disciplining him.
After months of hearing the boy complain about his 'mean' teacher, Gabriel Ross' parents decided to send a pocket tape recorder with him to school with instructions to record the 'mean' conduct Gabriel had been telling them about.
When the tape came back, they were shocked to hear the teacher's ongoing rant against their son, which contained the following rebukes:
"You've punished everyone in this building with your behavior. Everyone has been affected by your nasty behavior. Everyone. Cafeteria workers, the monitors, the art teacher, music teacher ... ten people in this building you have tormented and tortured for 149 days. I'm done."
"You've been ignorant, selfish, self-absorbed, the whole thing. I'm done..."
Then Ms. Woodward asked the class to join in by asking: "He has made every wrong choice possible and he has had more help to make right choices and he has chose not to. So you guys think, is that somebody you want to be with?"
"Noooo," says the kindergarten class said.
"See, your friend doesn't want to be with you," said Woodward.
Gabriel's parents have now pulled Gabriel out of the school and have said that they plan to seek out counseling for Gabriel.
"We seriously need to find somebody to talk with Gabriel to see if he's alright, because this experience for 149 days - as far as I'm concerned that's how long it went on."
The Indiana State Teachers Association is standing up for Woodward, who has taught for 13 years. They say the school system went too far with the suspension and didn't give Woodward a fair chance to give her side of the story.
The Weekly Vice Opinion:
A majority of the media who is following this story has all but lynched this teacher for her words - and we're partial to agreeing with that sentiment, however we're not going to take this position quite yet.
We have a bigger bone to pick with the school who we believe is at least partially to blame here - not just the teacher.
Most schools have special funding for children who present behavioral or emotional problems in class. This funding usually goes to additional support such as an extra teacher who can take a smaller class of kids with a history of behavioral issues - and works with them on a more one on one basis.
This is good for the student, because it gives them a more specialized care that may help them. It's also good for the rest of the class, who can move ahead on a different track. Lastly, it's good for the teacher, who can follow a lesson plan, instead of having it disrupted every 10 minutes.
It's clear that this school did not provide these resources to the teacher - and we absolutely do NOT believe this teacher got to this point without ever going to school authorities and discussing this problem.
We could be wrong, perhaps this teacher tried to handle things on her own - but it's clear that she's in over her head here and is simply reacting out of sheer frustration.
Meanwhile, the school board will throw this teacher under the bus, never acknowledging that it's THEIR responsibility to handle special needs cases (and this may very well qualify).
In an effort to save money, many schools misappropriate funding that is designed to go directly to situations like THIS.
If the school board has been negligent in using these funds appropriately, then their ass should be in the meat grinder right along with the teacher here.... and in our opinion, they should shoulder more of the blame, since they control the purse strings and resourcing here.
We hope some of the news outlets in this local community will investigate the school's role in all of this, instead of just putting the whole issue on the teacher's shoulders.
The Weekly Vice