Teacher Facebook Rant
When I came across an article about a teacher's rant on Facebook, I was shocked that the teachers at this young woman’s school had such a strong response to her senior photo.
This strong 18 year old young woman, Destinie Harwell, brought her 6 month old son with her to have her senior portraits done. Apparently, she decided to include her son in her senior photo because she figured he was such an important part of her life. She had her son in high school, and she was proud of the fact that she was able to graduate.
However, several teachers commented on Facebook about the young woman’s values, and that this picture was “rediculous” (the teachers typo, not mine) and complained to the photography studio. (WLTX reports the entire story.)
This kind of response, and the stigma associated with teenage pregnancy, only increases the shame and low self esteem many of these young women face. These young women don’t need more negativity. They need positive teachers who will lift them up and help them stay on track so that they stay in school and move forward with their lives!
When I decided to apply for medical school, several people cautioned me against mentioning Jonathan in my personal statement, which was part of the application process. I, too, wondered that if I shared that I was a young single mother, I’d be judged by the admissions committee as not being a serious student or perhaps bring up concerns that I may not be able to handle the coursework.
But when I began to think about it seriously, I thought, “I am so proud of what I have accomplished and how I have raised my son. If any medical school admissions committee doesn’t see that it is amazing that I have been this successful as a young parent, then that is not the school I want to attend. If they can’t see what I have to offer, with my background, then it won’t be a good fit.” And so, I did include Jonathan in my personal statement and I was accepted to several medical schools.
When I graduated from medical school in 2003, I knew that I wanted Jonathan to be on stage with me. He had sacrificed so much during my training and he was a huge part of why I was working so hard—to create a better life for our family. The sense of pride I felt and he felt as we were both on that stage was unbelievable and it is a strong memory that we both will have for the rest of our lives. He saw, on that stage, what is possible with hard work, dedication, support and faith. And others saw, what I valued: my family and my education.
As Destinie says, “Having a child young does not mean you are a bad person” and “it doesn’t not mean that a young parent doesn’t have values.” There are many reasons why a young person may become pregnant, but it is what they choose to do afterwards and the amount of positive support they receive that determines their future!
It sounds like Destinie does value showing her son that, even with challenges and struggles, it is possible to complete a goal and for her, that was graduating despite having a child during high school.
I must add, she finished school 6 months early and is enrolled in college classes! She is truly showing her child about the most important values—being a loving mother who values her child, a young woman who values her education, and a young woman who values standing up for herself and her son and showing him that he can achieve anything despite what others may have to say.
Go Destinie! I am proud of you!
What are your thoughts about this young woman’s story and the teachers’ reaction?