Let’s Just Scrap ‘Teacher of the Year’ Awards

This time it’s a two-time winner of what should be a prestigious award, but is all too often won by the very worst teachers imaginable:

Raemon Matthews, a nationally regarded history teacher at Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx, has been barred from the classroom for sexual wrongdoing involving students.

An investigation by the New York City Department of Education found that Matthews intimidated a 17-year-old female student into posing for explicit photos in a classroom cage that was used for storage. The educator was found to have engaged the teen in inappropriate activities, including fondling her breasts and private areas as well as posing for the photos under the pretense of “attract[ing] college recruiters and employers,” the New York Daily News reports. Matthews has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse.

The teen reportedly attempted to stop the sessions once, but was told, “no, bo-boo, we’re just getting started.” She didn’t pursue the issue because she was afraid “he would hurt or fail her.”

Matthews also encouraged the student to “look sexier,” and he had to “see more” of the scantily clad teen for the supposed college portfolio, the New York Post reports. The wrongdoings surfaced in late 2010 when a custodian found the photos on a CD.

“It was hard for me — it was like a big trauma,” the now-20-year-old told The Post. “I didn’t want anybody to know because I was embarrassed.”

News of the scandal come especially as a surprise as Matthews had been working in New York City schools since 2000, and was nationally known for his methods and effective teaching. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige praised the educator during a visit to the school in 2002, resulting in a trip to the capital for Matthews to demonstrate his interdisciplinary lessons and use of multimedia in the classroom.

Matthews’ employment of brain exercises and memory tools has also received national acclaim. A 2008 Associated Press report points to the educator as an example for improving student performance through memorization techniques, as an overwhelming majority of Matthews’ students at the predominantly low-income, minority school regularly pass the global and history geography state exams.

He is also a two-time city-wide Teacher of the Year. And in a school where 90 percent of students are below average in math and reading, Matthews’ teaching of memory techniques have resulted in a 100 percent passing rate for the New York state academic skills test, while 85 percent of his students scored 90 or higher, according to Psychology Today.

Whilst this is only alleged at this stage, it surely puts into question the merit of these types of awards. I am happy for teachers to be recognised for the good work they do, but these awards seem phoney to me.

Click on the link to read Should Teachers Be Allowed to go to the Beach?

Click on the link to read Why Patience is a Key Quality for a Teacher

Click on the link to read Useful Resources to Assist in Behavioural Management

Click on the link to read When Something Doesn’t Work – Try Again Until it Does

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