No Prey in Public Schools
I may have mentioned before that I share a classroom- my desk is housed in a colleague's room and I have a cart that I wheel from room to room. I have a good working relationship with said colleague and am lucky to be able to remain in my room during my prep, and she does the same when I am teaching and it's her prep. It's not a big deal. The cool thing is that we each have gotten to know one another's students. Last year, I became rather fond of one of her seniors- a sweet, talented girl, T. Her projects were always the ones the teacher wanted to keep, because she put cute embellishing touches on everyting. She related well to adults, I think because she comes from a rough and tumble family- she lived with her grandma because neither of her parents is responsible enough to be a parent.
She graduated last year- her senior picture is still stuck to my colleague's filing cabinet, along with several others'. She has beautiful, long brown hair, sparkly brown eyes and a sprinkling of freckles. She was the kind of 18 year old that had no idea of how good she looked - or at least she seemed not to.
As charming a student as she was, I hadn't really thought much about her since last spring, when I wistfully hoped she would "do something with her life" and go off to college and pursue studies in whatever floats her boat. I didn't think of her until one of my current students mentioned her. And mentioned that she was 7 months pregnant. By one of the track coaches.
I don't like to promote any kind of idle gossip, but this sounded like it was actually true. I did my best not to gasp "NUH-UH! No he di-int!" I asked the girl perpetrating the story later if it was this particuar track coach- an assistant, who was employed soley as a coach and is not, nor has ever been a teacher in our district. She said yes, she thought it was.
I know this guy - have been in several social situations with him- he's in his mid/late 20's, a really nice, intelligent person. I couldn't believe that this was anything he'd be involved in. So, I asked the coach, who also happens to be a friend of mine, and he confirmed it. He kind of grinned at me sheepishly and said "well, she is 19. He's not that much older than she is. They are getting married. They are both very happy."
I don't care. I don't care if he's only a few years older. I don't care that she got pregnant a few months after he was her coach. I don't care that it's not so bad because he's not a teacher, he's a coach.
The fact of the matter is that we go to work with young people- as teachers, as coaches, as counselors- and we do so because we want to teach them, to impart some knowledge or skill. We do so because we enjoy working with young people. At no time should anyone look at these young people as dating material. As parents, we need to trust that our sons and daughters can go to school, go to camp, run track, play tennis, and not be preyed upon by those who are in leadership positions. Teenagers may look the part of adults, but inside, they are still kids. Children. Minors. People who need guidance and protection and for whom to set a good example. I don't care if it's the student who initiates it- and I know that is frequently the line of defense that is taken. It is the responsibility of the young teacher, coach, counselor, to take a step back and say "No."
A friend teaching in Chicago public schools told me it was fairly common - esp. for young male teachers (sorry-I'm just reporting, not trying to gender stereotype)to date their students. That's creepy. It just is.