July 2022


Bad Teachers

My last post spurred me to start thinking about some of the bad teachers I had while in the Denver Public Schools.

But before I do, I want to make a quick clarification for people unfamiliar with me who might stumble upon my blog at a later date and take this out of context: While I was enrolled in the Denver Public Schools, the general quality of education was absolutely, positively, top notch. Based upon my personal experiences, I would send kids to DPS long before I would send them to private schools.

Anyhow, I am grateful that my list of bad teachers is relatively short, and that I can only think of one spectacularly bad teacher who should have been fired. More on that later. I alluded to the fact that my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. McCann, was bad—I would be specific as why, but alas, it is only an impression at this point. I also remember that at George Washington High School, I took drafting my first semester—however, I dropped the class because for the first two weeks we did nothing but go over the rules—and not the rules for drafting class, but the rules for the high school.

Another winner was my French teacher at Smiley Middle School who, for reasons still beyond me, decided to show the Frenchest of all French films, La Bamba.

However, my worst teacher was my eight grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Stephens. She and I were basically at war the entire year because she was incredibly incompetent. The most basic problem Mrs. Stephens had was that she used handouts provided by the textbook manufacturers without reading them—not even noticing that most of the handouts were riddled with factual errors. I think she went from not really appreciating me to actively despising me the day that I gave her one of the handouts with all of the factual errors corrected.

Perhaps I was a bit of a snot.

On the other hand, my family helped me fact check the entire handout.

However, Mrs. Stephen’s crowning achievement came during one of the many anti-drug lessons that the Denver Public Schools inflicted upon me during my 13 years in the system (ranging from the Rock Music, DARE, Me-ology, and more). This particular day, a Denver police officer came to our social studies class. I don’t really remember much about the officer’s lecture, as the anti-drug message becomes a blur after awhile, but he did do something different.

He brought an exhibit, which he handed to one of us and asked us what it was. The first kid, whose name I think was also Adam, had no idea and passed it to the next person, who also didn’t know.

And that’s when Mrs. Stephens made a comment that shocked me at the time—and had I been bold enough I would have made it an issue.

She laughed and whispered excitedly in an aside, “They don’t know what it is!

Considering my neighborhood and the socio-economic background of the students, the fact that we didn’t know it was a crack pipe wasn’t something to be laughed about, it was to be celebrated.

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