Dekalb County Fires PE Teacher For Disciplining Student

Our DeKalb County PE Coach’s Unjust Dismissal Is A Disciplinary Warning To American Teachers

We stand with justice. We stand with integrity. We stand with Coach OD.

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Co-authored by Shanru Xu

On Nov. 30, Dekalb County fired one of its best P.E. coaches for disciplining an unruly student.

On Nov. 12, Coach O'Donnell, who students affectionately call "OD," and his PE class gathered inside the school gym for a routine PE lesson when a student disrupted the class by spinning around on the ground. OD sent the boy outside to stand on the wall as a punishment. It was raining. While the student could have stood under the awning that extended far from the gym, he chose to run in the rain, soaking his flimsy t-shirt in the 42 degree weather. When he went home, his parents, upset at his condition, complained to the district and sealed Coach OD's fate forever.

Without any proper investigation, OD was forced into retirement for simply doing his job.

As former Henderson students, we owe all respect to OD and his dedicated 39 years of teaching at Henderson Mill Elementary. He has never raised his voice or exhibited hostility. He is loved by his community: teachers, parents and even decade-old alumni who see him as a role model and praise his integrity, generosity and charisma. Ultimately, he is a gift to DeKalb and its already under-qualified teacher workforce. He deserves nothing but a second chance and a fair trial.

With the student's parents filing a media complaint and sending this issue viral on social media, DeKalb County has tried to dismiss the issue by simply tossing OD the curb. As of now, the coach is on administrative leave, risking all of his retirement savings and benefits. In response, dozens of protesters gathered outside the elementary school in support for his return, which pushed DeKalb to reconsider its decision. Now, as stated by the Superintendent Steve Green, the county is finally investigating the issue but has declined to provide any other information.


Protestors on a Friday afternoon. Emily Fiksman

This disappointing event, although not shocking, (DeKalb is notorious for bad decisions) exposes the risks teachers face every day, along with showing how much power the parents wield while also revealing the inability of the "higher-ups" to make an adequate and informed decision.

SEE ALSO: To The 4 Out of 7 Teachers Who Are Leaving Next Year, DeKalb Owes You An Apology

The implications of this event, however, go further than one P.E. coach and an unruly student.

For years, teachers in DeKalb County have faced a daunting battle, being "reassigned" or put on "temporary leave" for the smallest reasons.

Overprotective parents, anxious to blame the school district for the tiniest mistake regarding their children's education, are a major part of this problem. They may claim they are simply doing the best for their kids, but the cost is steep — great teachers sacrificed for one minor inconvenience in their kid's day.

And with the increased power that parents have, it's hard for the higher-ups to deny them. After all, one misstep could send legal actions tumbling into their laps, or in OD's case, allegations of "child abuse" could arise. Even worse, when parents directly contact a third party (like a news/media outlet) without first discussing the issue with school administration, it makes it that much harder for county officials to make a smart choice.

However, another problem stems from the fact that county officials lack the common sense to make these informed, intelligent choices. Instead of thinking ahead, officials make a spur-of-the-moment decision, neglecting to investigate details fully and thus unfairly disadvantaging the accused.

So, what will happen to the future of teaching? With no one to protect them from petty accusations, not even the county, current teachers feel endangered, while future teachers will feel discouraged from delving into the career of teaching. As a result, as the dangers of being a teacher increase, the number of teachers will decrease. Soon, the shortage of teachers will be even more dire than now.

The combination of overambitious parents and the rash decisions of county officials puts the profession of teaching at danger, and finding well-qualified teachers is becoming a much harder task.

OD was the source of our happiness during elementary school. At recess, we would jump around in circles, clambering for him to teach us how to play soccer. Other times, even on rainy days, he always created mini-triathlons with bowling pins, jump rope challenges and basketball hoops in which we competed for the victory title. He helped to shape us into healthy, active kids like no other coach has ever been able to do. Without OD, we would never have the friendships we currently have, and now, unfortunately, the kids at Henderson Mill will never have the chance to experience his legacy.

Together, students, parents and teachers themselves can combat this problem by speaking out against the decisions of county officials and calling attention to the problem of the scarcity of teachers. Together, we can reform DeKalb county for the better and provide the best quality education possible for young minds.

As for Coach OD, he's currently fighting to get his job back and trying to bring awareness to the plight of all teachers, especially those who work in DeKalb County. You can support his legal defense fees on his GoFundMe page.

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If You Have A Project You Want To Grow, Crowdfunding May Be The Answer

The benefits of the crowdfunding phenomenon.

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The idea of crowdfunding is exciting, isn't it? A small town poet can use a platform like GoFundMe or Patreon to sell their work directly to those who are looking for it. A community organizer can not only raise funds for an upcoming event, but they can also keep the funds coming in to raise money for the monthly expenses of running their group. A magazine editor can keep their readership engaged through multimedia as well as tangible perks in exchange for tiers of subscription costs.

Crowdfunding makes it so people can combine multiple engagement styles directly with target audiences for a common cause.

What really makes crowdfunding satisfying is getting monetary confirmation that what one is passionate about is supported. Money rules a lot of the world, and receiving money for creating or providing something for others is extremely fulfilling. Different than just going to work and earning a paycheck. Jobs employ workers to create or provide something that has already had a template of origination.

Crowdfunding is running one's own business of creation or providing goods without a bunch of the red tape. In fact, one could say that crowdfunding has allowed sites like Etsy to flourish. One can now make a pretty decent profit just making pins, Mickey ears, necklaces — whatever one can imagine — and get it directly in eyes of those interested. There's nothing to lose in crowdfunding, just the hour or so it may or may not take to set up the site.

Crowdfunding can also be used for temporary things like school funds, funeral funds, and recovery efforts. Need $10,000 to get through a semester at college? Have a sudden death in the family and need $5,000 to pay closing costs and unexpected expenses? Major world disaster like a hurricane or tsunami destroy an entire majorly populated area? GoFundMe is your answer. You'll most likely get twice as much funds then the goal you set.

There's now many crowdfunding sites out there. Outside of GoFundMe, the three biggies are Patreon, Indiegogo, and Kickstarter. So take your pick, make your page, and get some money!

And just in case you're wondering, yes I do have crowdfunding efforts out there for my projects! One for my personal writings, and one for my magazine.

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The Movie Watchers

The Types Of People That Watch Movies

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This past weekend I saw the movie of the life time, Avengers Endgame. It was the culmination of 10 years in the making and no there will not be any spoilers in this piece of writing. I however noticed the same trends that occurred each time I went to the movies. The I saw the same people, however they were just in different bodily forms. When my eyes were not glued to the screen out of sheer anxiety and thrill, I managed to catch a quick glance at the type of people that plague our good theaters.

To start off, there are always those people that are good people and don't disturb the movie experiences of others. These are the quiet people, the ones who keep their eyes on the movie and focus on nothing else. These are the people we should all aspire to be, with their bloodshot eyes from not blinking as to not miss a single moment of the movie. While I am not always the Eyes Glued To The Screen movie watcher, I can say with assurance that I am a somewhat follower of this rule. I think everyone should learn from these people.

Next comes the traditional On My Phone Like A Idiot in the movie movie watcher. This is by far the most annoying of all the people that come to a movie. Like I came to be entertained and I paid good money for this, I didn't pay 14 dollars and 31 cents to hear some girl gossip on her phone to her friend about how her boyfriend didn't bring her flowers or some middle aged man attempt to close a business deal while his kids were watching the movie. Either leave your business at home or for the courtesy of others, at least leave it outside the theater. No one brings me more anger than these people just because they don't know any common courtesy or manners.

If your at the movie, you might get hungry or thirsty so its normal for people to bring in some food, most typically being popcorn. This is fine and all but don't chew so loudly that it sounds like Jurassic Park to the person next to you. Or don't sip up your drink in such a way that it makes the people around you wonder how your mother raised you. I call this person, the Slurper. Just, be chill and watch the movie. At least your not like the On My Phone Like An Idiot where you're an inconvenience to the whole theater.

Movies are a great way to get distracted from the horrors that are our personal lives. They are solace for some people, giving us a place to escape from reality. So please, don't disturb the kind movie goers who just need a break from that relentless school, job, or even family. Just give them their peace. So sit down, turn off your cellphone, and enjoy the movie.

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