However, this week's "winner" does a great job of clearly displaying that there are some teachers out there who are simply unworthy of working with our students. Be sure to take your antacids before you read THIS story!
It seems that a teacher in Stevens Point, WI gave her graduating students incredibly insulting and insensitive gifts as they transition out of Stevens Point Area Senior High. Sue Felder, listed as a Special Education instructor at SPASH, was exposed for her completely inappropriate presents when one parent complained publicly that her daughter was given "...a toilet bowl brush, and a Comet cleanser. I asked my daughter why she got this gift, and she said her teacher told her that she will be scrubbing toilets.”*
The only thing more outrageous than this gift and the idiotic instructor's pathetic apology is the flaccid response from the school superintendent. How a district administrator can defend such an employee and their behavior is beyond me. The district's official response is as follows:
“As part of the Stevens Point Area Public School District’s mission to prepare each student to be successful, the District has in place a Life Skills Center program. This program, which serves students with cognitive disabilities, promotes the learning of independent living and basic work skills.
Recently, a Life Skills Center teacher gave students a congratulatory card and gift basket as graduation gifts. All of the items were purchased with the teacher’s personal funds. Among the items in the gift basket was a brush and some cleaner. The items were included to reinforce the independent living skills and other gains that students had made during their time in the program.
While school staff did not mean for the gift to be offensive, school and District staff understand how parents may be find the gift to be so. For that, school and District staff offer parents their most sincere apology for the situation. Moving forward, students in the Life Skills Center program will be given gifts appropriate for graduation from high school.
The District regrets causing any offense and is committed to ensuring that this type of situation does not occur again.”**
|Photo courtesy of Stevens Point City-Times|
The dismissive nature of the school superintendent demonstrates what a pervasive problem this is in Stevens Point. When asked by local media about the teacher's employment status, Attila Weninger (Yes, Attila is his real name!) responded that he did not think firing Felder is the answer. “That would be inappropriate. This does not rise to that level, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”* In other words, the life of the students receiving such gifts are not WORTH enough to dismiss such an unqualified individual from her post. How's that for TOLERANCE? INCLUSION? EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION? Such behavior from "professionals" only reinforces wider perceptions that a community like Stevens Point, WI is a "back woods" town. I, for one, would never want one of my students attending SPASH.
Besides praying for the healing of these students' and their parents' hearts, please also pray for the hearts and minds of the "professionals" in this situation. This community needs some God-sized help!
If you are further inspired, I would encourage you to respectfully enlighten Superintendent Attila Weneninger, PhD*** as to why such a gift and his response to it are so damaging to our children. Parents like this mother need our support and wider advocacy. God calls us to come alongside one another at times such as this, making the world aware that our kids are fearfully and wonderfully made.
For Further Exploration:
*"Graduation gift from teacher to student upsets family", WSAU.com
**"District Apologizes to Students After Toilet Brushes Handed Out as Gifts", Steven's Point City-Times
***Stevens Point Area Public School District
~ Barb Dittrich