Home > Friends, Learning, Parenting > Escape from Terror Teacher

Escape from Terror Teacher

I knew something was wrong with my son’s new school the moment I absorbed the incident report.

My initial response was horror. “My sweet, sensitive son did that? What on earth is happening at the school for him to do such a thing?”

Exhausted from tending to his baby brother and in the throes of post partum depression, I focused my chagrin on him. “I am so disappointed in you!” I told him repeatedly as we drove home.

“But he told me I had to!”

“You didn’t have to do it! It was a choice. You chose it and, oh. Oh, I can’t even tell you how disappointed I am.”

I’d cooled down by the time I reached home. I thought about who I know my son to be and softened into discussion instead of accusation. Once inside our house, I hugged Li’l D and affirmed that I love him and his big heart no matter what.

My husband and I opted to speak to the school director the next day. She laughed his actions off as something boys do, but only after expressing surprise that Li’l D was involved; she’d only heard about the ringleader’s actions.

All seemed well when we left that meeting. Then we went to wave farewell to Li’l D, who cried, held us tight and begged us to take him home. We said we’d pick him up early, but that he had to finish the day.

When we picked him up, a couple of girls told me, “He did [terrible thing].” They’d discussed his transgression in the classroom as an example of how not to behave, a deviation from the time outs we had been told to expect.

“I know,” I said curtly.

“Are you still mad at me?” Li’l D whispered as we walked away.

“Oh, no!” I exclaimed while crouching down to hug him. Hugging him, I said I understood and knew he would make better choices next time. I had overreacted, I told him, and was sorry.

I heard about it from kids several times the next week, as well as reference to other things Li’l D was doing wrong. But I didn’t really hear it the way I needed to, as my son would, and thought only, “Geez, I hope they get over this soon.”

Last week, the fourth week, my gregarious son reported no one would play with him. To my introverted self, that sounded like heaven. To him, it was a sign something was wrong with him. My husband and I agreed we’d talk with the teacher and get pointers for helping integrate him socially.

Everything clicked into place when I talked to his teacher. She explained with barely concealed distaste that Li’l D makes jokes the other kids don’t like. The implication? Of course they wouldn’t want to spend time with him.

Surprised by her strange answer, I tried guiding her back to finding a solution. Instead, she said, “He doesn’t know his numbers or letters. He can’t even write 5 or 2.”

I know I’m a blogger and thus tend toward verbosity, but my honest to god response was:


“Actually, yes. Yes, he does, as we’ve talked about before. He’s a super bright kid who would rather be discussing theology than work on boring stuff like letters, but he knows them, as we have discussed with you multiple times before. We brought him here to help with his focus. The knowledge, he has. It’s getting him to show it that’s hard. Again, that is why he’s here.”

“Maybe you should start reading to him at home.”


“We’ve been reading to him since he was a newborn.”

“Then read him several books a day.”

And then, like that, my son’s sudden dislike of school, his frequently awakening in terror, his newfound lack of desire to get out of bed in the morning? It all made sense.

His teacher disdained him. He didn’t fit neatly into her orderly classroom of kids well versed in this school’s ways, and she was irked at having to help transition him. She couldn’t be bothered to conceal her disdain from me, his parent, which had terrifying implications for how she was handling my son when I wasn’t there. There was no chance he was being heard, and every chance his classmates were picking up on her disdain. Suddenly I heard their frequent reports about Li’l D’s wrongdoings as he would hear them.

All he was hearing was “no.”

He was being torn down, by his classmates and his teacher.

Apparently, our tuition fee was a space rental fee.

As a contract negotiator, I have learned when conversations are worth continuing and when they should be walked away from as futile. I have too little time to waste my words on people who won’t hear them.

As a parent, I have also learned that one must not make sudden big decisions like taking one’s child from school without consulting the other parent.

I hugged my son and walked away, hoping he, too, would be walking away–for good–shortly.

My husband and I talked. I called my son’s old school and talked with the principal there. She was horrified. So, too, were my teacher friends.

When we asked Li’l D if he wanted to go back to the new school, his answer was a quick and definitive no, never, not ever. He lit up when we said he was done there, and that he would never, ever have to go back.

We spent the next couple of days trying to build him up. We had many adventures and enjoyed seeing our sweet son, not the shadow of him we’d seen since he started at the new school.

This morning, he returned to his old school. I started crying when my husband texted me that Li’l D was greeted with hug attacks from teacher and student alike.

A month ago, developing my son’s focus seemed like the most important thing in the world. Now, I see we have time.

I see he will fare better with encouragement and among friends.

I see we will have some challenges in the days ahead, but that they will be made easier with patience, loving encouragement, and hug attacks.

I see, and it is good.

  1. May 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

    My heart goes out to your family…my brother’s childhood and parts of my own echo with this shared story…must run along now, but will try to share later. *hug*
    I’m glad you chose hug attacks over focus.

    • May 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Due to our socioeconomic status (and probably other factors), my siblings and I got to experience some teachers who now serve as my guide for what I don’t want to see in anyone working with my children. Fortunately, we also had a couple of exceptional ones, and those have informed me greatly, as well. 🙂

  2. May 27, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    A woman like that should not be teaching children.

    • May 27, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      I agree. She’s used to being in a student-led classroom where I think she’s used to playing a much more hands off role. Still, where kids are involved, there’s always going to be a certain amount of hands on . . . and penalizing them for needing that is well beyond absurd. Oy.

  3. May 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I’m happy that Lil’ D is back where he is comfortable, welcome, and encouraged in school. That is so much more important than a school’s credentials. As I think I shared with you before, Maycee doesn’t attend the highest performing school, nor one with even a great reputation because folks judge before ever visitng the campus, but when she enters her classroom, she is welcomed with “Maycee’s here!” cheers if she’s been out sick… when she needs a little extra challenge, the teacher is willing to give it to her, she’s excelling just fine, and never does she complain about going to school! Bigtime kudos in my book! 🙂 🙂 XOXO-Kasey

    • May 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      That makes me smile to read! I’m not sure what’s happening for elementary school yet, but I hope D’s experience will be like Maycee’s wherever it is he lands.

      With the littlest one sick today, it’s really, really uplifting to know one of my boys is having a great time.

  4. May 27, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    How my heart hurt when I was reading this. I am so glad that you had the opportunity to get him back where he apparently belongs. Good job mom and dad.

  5. May 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    I just sat here crying my eyes out for your poor baby. Then I got mad and wanted to pop over and beat the living hades out of that rude terrible woman, do not ever refer to her as a teacher again, she is the gatekeeper to nightmares, she is the crone. She is not a Teacher.

    I want to put my cowboy boots on (not the good ones) and kick her in the butt so hard she will wear it as a hat for at least a month, if not longer and then when it starts to sink below her shoulders kick her again just for good measure.

    I love you. I am sorry this happened. <3<3<3<3<3<3<3

  6. May 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    That is NOT a teacher, but a soul sucking, oxygen stealing destroyer. Wrong, wrong and wrong.
    So glad that your boy is free of her – and was welcomed back with open arms (and hearts).

  7. May 27, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    It’s hard that your little man had to go through this. The very sad truth is that as parents we can’t shield them from all harm.

    Good for you for listening, finding out what was going on and taking steps right away to change. You did just the right thing.

  8. May 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I’m so glad you had another option for your son. (Is it wrong that I pictured myself punching his teacher in the throat on behalf of your son? yeah…prolly so.) I had to deal with a teacher who felt the same way about my oldest son. Actually, two teachers – one who called me to retrieve him from class after elections when he was in the fourth grade because he knew as much as any adult about politics, asked too many questions about the history of the school…etc., etc.
    I am thankful for teachers who are compassionate, who welcome out of the box thinkers – and wish there were more.
    Sending good thoughts your way.

  9. May 27, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    There are good teachers and bad teachers. And ones who should be registered as “Never let me teach-ers.” My son had one of those in 2nd grade. The woman — twice — stepped in front of my car while it was moving. I’m still astonished that I hit the brake. My son was not so clear in how bad she was so we really didn’t know until the end of the year. He recovered.

    Glad you found out early and were wise enough to get him out!

  10. May 27, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I caught my breath at the “frequently awakening in terror”. That’s what happened with BoyGenius in grade 1. He became adamant about being home-schooled. It took advice from his paediatrician, an e-mail to the special ed resources teacher, a meeting (or two) with the SERT and his teacher, and a letter to & meeting with the principal before the school realized that the problem did indeed stem from the teacher, something they should have been (and most likely were) well aware of given the length of time she’s been teaching there and the number of prior concerns and complaints the various administrators have received over the years. Thankfully, I did make a difference for my son, his classmates, and those students who have followed in the lady three years.

    Sometimes, though, like you said, it is best to walk away. You, as a family, did what needed to be done for you. I applaud you. ♥

  11. May 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    God she reminds me of a maths teacher who was perpetually angry….. my class nicknamed her demon (in secret)

  12. May 27, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    I’m so happy to hear that he was joyfully received at his old school. I have serious concerns that the teacher he just left was a bully who teaches the other children to bully. In my teacher training, humiliation and pointing out a child’s wrong doing to the class as an example of how not to behave, was certainly discouraged! Children learn best with positive reinforcement. I’m glad he’s out of that place.
    I sure hope Littler J is feeling better and that things begin to normalize for you on the home front. ❤

  13. May 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I had bad first and second grade teachers, but one of the worst was my sixth grade choir teacher. She pulled me aside to tell me in person not to bother going to see if I made it into 7th/8th grade choir. She went on to tell me for several minutes all the reasons why I wasn’t good enough to be in “her” choir. I was crying for hours. It took my mom a while to figure out why I was crying.
    Deborah and my mom wrote and sent a letter to the principle, school superintendant, and a few other people. We got a letter saying basically that she was fired, though they didn’t use that word. Making it into choir then became a lottery of sorts, though when i went in to sign up the new choir teacher had my name on her hand (i believe to insure that I made it in after all the hubub).
    She was always yelling and belttling kids in class. My brother said she threw a chair at a student. (She was my brothers homeroom teacher).

  14. May 29, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I had some “interesting” interactions with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher MANY moons ago. I’ll never forget that she tried to run away from that school or how she thrived when we pulled her out. It took me too long to ‘get it’ though, and I’m sorry for that. Glad for Lil’D that you figured it out quick!

    THE best learning environment we can give our kids is one where they feel loved, accepted, and challenged to their potential. Teaching a child to accept negative reinforcement is dangerous business and can only hurt their ability to learn. I’m so happy for you guys!

  15. June 3, 2014 at 1:58 am

    I have just nominated you for the Most Inspiring Blogger Award. I really appreciate your work! http://learnmoreeveryday.wordpress.com/2014/06/03/its-an-honor-to-be-nominated/

  16. June 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    This story resonated with me deeply. When my daughter was in kindergarten, she had a cold, controlling teacher who hated boys. A parent at the school (Catholic) told me her son had once said to her, “Mrs. X is going to go to Hell.” I tried hard to understand why someone who dislikes children would want to be with young ones day after day. Luckily, most of my children’s teachers have been wonderful. I hope you find a teacher with a kind heart who can help your child learn to focus as well as to thrive.

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