Editorial: Teacher’s past work needs to be forgiven

RoleModel.jpgWe all like to hear the inspirational stories of someone who managed to turn unlikely ambitions into realities. For example, Cristy Nicole Deweese is a former Playboy model. She aspired to be a teacher even during her time as a model. She started working at Dallas ISD as a Spanish teacher this year, and the school was aware of her past when she was hired.

Unfortunately, by October, she was fired. She wasn’t fired because she was a bad teacher. She wasn’t fired because she was mean to her students. She was fired for her Playboy past.

A few students had found her nude pictures online and showed them to their parents. At least one parent complained to the school and within six days Deweese was terminated, according to the Dallas Morning News.

There were many opinions about the outcome of this situation, and the editorial board was divided on this matter, but this is the opinion of the majority.

The parents had understandable concerns. Could their kids focus in the classroom if they know what their female teacher looks like with no clothes?

Some argued that no, the kids couldn’t. The nude pictures caused enough of a stir at the school that the school’s administrators saw fit to dismiss Deweese. After seeing their naked teacher online, they might only focus on that rather than learning Spanish.

Before the students found out about her Playboy past, it’s not as though they couldn’t have been distracted about something else. High school students could be distracted by anything — notes, pranks, jokes in the hallways or even last-minute homework for another class. Once one distraction fades away, another one is ready to replace it. The school didn’t give the situation enough time to play out. It’s possible this distraction would just fade away, especially if they’d embraced it as a learning opportunity instead of a moral crisis.

Deweese could have easily started out her class by explaining her past, why she became a teacher and how the rest of the year will be. She could have said, “I’m the teacher. I will teach you. You are the student. You have the option to learn or not.” The school could have encouraged Deweese to do this, but it did not. Instead, administrators let what could have been fixed on the first day of class become an issue among the students and parents.

However, the students at this school learned a more detrimental lesson from her firing than they would from imagining her nude while she taught. They learned that the past really can haunt you and that when people find out about it, they’re likely to judge you. There is no forgiveness or redemption.

The school board hired her and was very much aware of her past. They could have used her past to their advantage, but it’s squandered now. Instead of firing her, they could have had Deweese teach the students that it’s always possible to achieve their goals.

This would have been a better way to handle the situation than simply dismissing Deweese. Many people view being a Playboy as immoral. The fact one of the models would go on to be a teacher is inspiring. However, some people don’t want to overlook the immorality of the modeling job even when a service to the community is in its place.

This situation should be applied on a broader scale. Deweese has decided to start modeling again. We have to consider the other models who might have modeled only to raise money to go to school to eventually get a career. By firing the Playboy model for her past, we tell them that if you start out like that, you’re stuck that way. That’s the only work you can do. That’s all your aspirations can ever be.

This idea is the worst thing to come out of the situation. Instead of teaching the students forgiveness and redemption, it teaches that people can make what some consider a mistake and those people can never rise from those mistakes to new careers.