After being found guilty of misconduct for putting her legs behind her head in front of her students, [the ex-teacher] stands in a coffee shop the next day and lifts her floral skirt.
“It was a yoga exercise,” Brown says, revealing to a reporter that she has aqua yoga tights under her skirt, just like the day she proved how flexible she is to her students. “You stretch until you’re aligned. That’s what I showed them. I’m not ashamed.”
Brown, a fit 65-year-old, was recorded by a student when she laid down on the floor and swung her legs upward until they were behind her head. The video, along with the statements of more than 10 students and one educational assistant were the primary evidence used against her during an Ontario College of Teachers tribunal hearing on Tuesday. Some said her actions made them feel embarrassed.
“Why would the children be embarrassed,” Brown asks, noting she performed the exercise during lunch hour. “They have sex in the hallway and they smoke.”
It's funny because we do not expect teachers, let alone Catholic religion teachers, to illustrate how flexible they are by doing feet-behind-head yoga moves, or talk glibly about their mothers' sex-lives, or make jaw-dropping claims about the students' sexual behaviour. Something tells me Humanae Vitae and the thought of Saint John Paul II weren't pondered too deeply in this woman's classes.
But it's important because it is dangerous to assume that teachers are thoughtful, prudent, moral, respectful people just because they are have been hired to teach at Catholic schools, especially government-funded Catholic schools. Teachers at publicly funded Catholic schools in Toronto are very well paid. If I had had any financial sense when I went to university... But, on the other hand, if you're not called to it, and you do it just for the money, teaching high school can be miserable.
This woman claims to have taught at a number of Toronto Catholic high schools since 1987--when I was in high school, my dears--including my own high school. I don't recognize her, so I don't think she was there (if she ever really was there) in my day. However, I can remember one other teacher giving a very good impression of being bat-guano insane. Others, of course, were great and their more quirky pronouncements--"Mankind is doomed, girls. We're doomed. Have a good afternoon"--didn't do me any harm.
Now that I teach teenagers instead of adults, I worry about being overly lighthearted and saying the wrong things or The Wrong Thing that will stick in a student's head for years after I have forgotten it. (I worry about this regarding my niece and nephews, too.) The teacher in this story doesn't seem so bothered.
Happily, I am not given to outrageous remarks about (A) Adult Stuff or (B) my students' ethnic backgrounds. I imagine Filipina-Canadian girls who attend or have attended one of this woman's schools (and their parents) must be feeling pretty shaken by this woman's dismissal of them all. It is hands-down worse than anything I ever heard anyone in Toronto--student, teacher, boss--say about pasty "mangiacakes "like me, and I am still mad that 30 years ago Mrs Such-and-Such said that Anglo-Saxons won't do construction jobs because we don't like to get callouses on our hands. I was too stunned to raise my hand and volunteer that my mother's (White, Anglo-Saxon and even Protestant) cousins worked summers in Toronto's construction industry until their inability to speak Italian became a problem.
(Let it go, Dorothy. Let it gooooooo. Daj spokój. Non fa niente. )
Perhaps the most disturbing feature of the story is that this ex-teacher was hauled up before a tribunal only in 2015. Okay, it could be that she was an exemplary teacher from 1987 until then. But if not, what were her colleagues doing to protect their students from this woman's insanely imprudent and immoral remarks?
For the sake of fairness, I should also observe that this teacher was the victim of quite a serious fraud at the hands of a friend in 2014, so it very well may be that she snapped afterwards. That said, I really do think it important that all parents who entrust their children to a system check that system regularly.