The Teacher of the Year and the football player: Sounds like a Lifetime movie

This sounds like the plot of a Lifetime Channel movie: Teacher of the Year has sex with football player.

But it’s a real allegation in a Gwinnett County high school.

The AJC story is very interesting in that it has quotes from both parents, those of the teacher and of the student. The teacher’s father understandably defends his daughter and casts the student as a “knucklehead,”  but the story notes that the teacher admitted to the relationship, calling it consensual.

I still don’t get the teacher/student thing. When you read these stories, you assume that there is something unique about both the teacher and the student, that a teacher drawn to a student must be much more immature than the average adult and the student who is the subject of the teacher’s attentions must be much more mature that her/his peers.

But when these cases explode and you see the participants in court or interviews, they are just normal people who ended up in abnormal — and illegal — situations.

With all the negative publicity about these cases and the outcome possibly a prison term, I can’t see how a teacher ends up risking it all for what seems a small return. I taught at a community college when I was 25, and I never considered any of my students, some of whom were my age or older, as friends or folks that I would invite out for coffee. The classroom created a wall between us that I never thought about crossing.

Any insights from folks in the field?

According to an exclusive AJC story:

The Teacher of the Year at Shiloh High School has resigned after admitting to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Keenon Aampay Hall, 29, left a promising career as an English teacher at the Gwinnett County school amid allegations that she seduced a senior who came to her for homework help. An investigative file on the case compiled by the school system’s human resources division contains the student’s accounts of sexual trysts at a hotel, a friend’s home and in the teacher’s classroom during school hours. The report also says that pornography was found on Hall’s Gwinnett County schools laptop.

The student, a player on Shiloh’s football team who is to graduate Friday, claimed that Hall gave him gifts and pressured him to commit to their six-month relationship by giving her a baby, according to the file. When he declined, the student’s family said, Hall gave him a failing grade, prompting him to report the relationship to school officials.

“The allegation of the inappropriate behavior came to light because the teacher decreased the student’s grade,” Gwinnett schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.

Gwinnett County Public Schools police are investigating the incident. The governor recently signed a new law making it illegal for teachers to have sex with students, even if the sex is consensual. In addition, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which has the authority to revoke Hall’s teaching certificate, is scheduled to review the complaint next week.

Hall, elected by her colleagues as Shiloh’s Teacher of the Year, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hall’s peers had voted her Shiloh High Teacher of the Year in the fall. Her name was touted in school bulletins; she gave inspirational speeches; and was recognized at a Gwinnett County awards dinner with other top district teachers. Her parents, who attended the banquet, said they were proud but wondered why she never got her Teacher of the Year ring.

“She earned it,” her father, Dennis Hall, said. “I believe this is the action of Principal [Gwen] Tatum. It definitely opens the county up for a defamation lawsuit. … How can seven years of teaching and a reputation be destroyed because of the word of one knucklehead? I think that’s wrong.”

Hall has a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University and has completed her master’s work, her parents said. On an application for her Gwinnett job she wrote that she was “uniquely qualified” because she has “a passion for education and working with children.”

The student, now 18, relocated to Georgia from North Carolina to live with his uncle, Jason Pender, a football coach at Shiloh High. Ericka Pender allowed her son to leave home so he could focus on academics his senior year and graduate instead of getting distracted by old friends in Winston-Salem.

Coach Pender said his nephew had been dating a teenager at school and didn’t seem any more stressed than most seniors trying to get into college. “I wondered how he got the cell phone when he was not working,” Pender said. He grew concerned when the teen’s progress report in English “went from an A to a D or F.”

134 comments Add your comment

d

May 27th, 2010
7:34 am

One of these days, I’d like to see some good news about my alma mater.

A teacher, too

May 27th, 2010
7:38 am

Just want to say that all the teachers I know who were RIF victims neither had sex with students, nor did they dress in klan robes.

New School

May 27th, 2010
7:47 am

This lady is off balance. It’s one thing to give in to your carnal desires but to want a baby from a HS senior? Crazy!
This sort of thing wasn’t happening when I was in HS in the 80’s… at least it wasn’t happening to me. But, given the opportunity…

Middle GA Teacher

May 27th, 2010
7:54 am

I don’t get it. I won’t try to. I love my students, but even thinking of them in a sexual manner is just plain nasty! I am going to hope that this is swiftly dealt with and leaves the news. We can’t take much more negative publicity.

Hot for Teacher

May 27th, 2010
7:58 am

How come all these sex crazed teachers weren’t around 10 years ago when I was in school? I miss all the fun.

em

May 27th, 2010
8:21 am

@d, it’s not just your school. Some school systems are far removed from coverage of the AJC and the other metro news organizations. Other school systems are good about keeping things quiet. For example, in my community, a teacher was just arrested last week for sexual battery. It has not made the Atlanta news circuit as of yet; for that matter, the story has had minimal coverage in our local paper. Having said that, before we start condemning and convicting, let us wait for ALL of the facts to come in.

chris

May 27th, 2010
8:28 am

Actually, this seems typical. The teachers ever one praises, are often not so wonderful. Education is arse backwards. Half this teacher of the year stuff is straight up politics, I never have put any value in it. It’s total junk.

chris

May 27th, 2010
8:36 am

Lastly, I think the teachers that kids are safe with are the one who get fired. Once again education in this country is backwards. I won’t lie I have worked in a school were teachers were caught sleeping with students. Funny, thing is this kinda teachers get good evaluations and thought to be the high performing teachers. I seen it many times.

td

May 27th, 2010
8:39 am

I do not know if this teacher did this or not but I do know that I am not going to believe every word this kid said that was printed. I am sure he stretched it out to put himself in the best possible light.

BTW: What is the heck is a young man whinning about getting some and not even having to work hard for it. Pull his man card now.

Texas Pete

May 27th, 2010
8:46 am

@chris,

You know, every Chris in the world is a scumbag sleeze. Need to round them all up as they are ALL bad people. I SEEN it myself. Just saying.

A. Parent

May 27th, 2010
8:52 am

Maureen, isn’t it interesting how a female teacher engaging in a sexual relationship with an minor male student is the stuff of jokes, but where the genders to be reversed, the teacher would be labeled a “sexual predator”. I know what the State says – if charged and convicted she will have to register as a sex offender, etc. Can we expect “Rev.” Hutchins to take his bandwagon to Shiloh next? If this story, it is true. You (and your husband) want to joke, go to open mike night at The Punchline. I’m not one to dabble in mawkish nonsense, and at 17 years-old, the male student was a de facto “adult” but as I said, were the roles reversed, you would not be quoting the adolescent fantasies of David Lee Roth.

chris

May 27th, 2010
9:02 am

Texas Pete. Look, it is just what I seen in my career. Off course it’s not true every where, but come on. It happens more often then we like to admit. And yes your experience may be different. Still, ya got admit the teacher of year stuff is often politics in most places. But you do make a point that one person’s experience is not actually a valid measure of anything. Still, we need to find a way to keep kids safe. But no easy answer to that.

Rebecca

May 27th, 2010
9:09 am

GCPS most definitely covers up alot of “events” that would make the system look bad. Sounds like they have some pretty hard evidence against this teacher or this story never would have seen the light of day. It is also disturbing to hear of another absent parent, as Mom of student lives in NC.

Kim

May 27th, 2010
9:11 am

Wish the woman had been his dentist or something other than teacher. But, let’s set the record straight. She is his crazy teacher.

John

May 27th, 2010
9:14 am

I dont’t know which is worse–that she had sex with the student or that she couldn’t even spell the word “consensual” correctly in her letter of resignation in which she admitted the improper conduct with the student. It is clear to anybody with a brain that she should never have been hired to teach English in any school anywhere and that this shows how bogus “Teacher of the Year” awards are when an English teacher without even an eighth grade level of English achievement can get such an award.

Rebecca

May 27th, 2010
9:17 am

On another note, Teacher of the Year at the lowest level is most often “political”. To advance to higher levels is a true honor. My child’s MS science teacher from the 08-09 school year won THIS year, and I agree with that she is an awesome teacher that deserved all the recognition she received.

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catlady

May 27th, 2010
9:24 am

He is getting into trouble in NC, mom cannot handle him, sends him to GA, uncle does not find out how he got the cell phone, and boy gets in trouble here.

Sounds like it isn’t just the teacher who is disfunctional.

LG

May 27th, 2010
9:24 am

OMG, if the teachers in my high school were caught every time they had an affair with a student, there won’t have been any teachers left. They kept in quiet for the most part; sometimes their spouses were the ones who caught them and it was out of the rumor mills and into the local paper. We had the teachers who kept a pint of whiskey in their desk drawer and took sips when no one was looking. It was all part of our school along with knuckles being whacked with yardsticks and blackboard erasers full of dust thrown at heads. BTW, I graduated in 1980.

catlady

May 27th, 2010
9:25 am

Ms. Downey, LOL for your husband’s observation!

catlady

May 27th, 2010
9:26 am

Guess there will be a big lawsuit now.

ArtVandelay

May 27th, 2010
9:27 am

Is no one upset that this lady is still walking around and not in jail? What male teacher could submit a WRITTEN CONFESSION of having sex with a minor (consensual or not) and not be under the jail right now? The clear double standard here is outrageous.

A sexual predator is a sexual predator…PERIOD! She should be prosecuted not allowed to only “resign”

Texas Pete

May 27th, 2010
9:31 am

@chris,

Just saying, there are bad teachers, police, priests, politicians, doctors, lawyers, parents, etc. It is overstated that the world is a dangerous place for children. It seems anytime something bad happens we as a society take knee jerk measures to “do something” about the problem regardless of its magnitude then take a broad bush to anyone in the same position as the perpetrator. It’s unfair to cash a negative blanket over the teaching profession just because there are bad apples in the bunch just like every other profession. Sure, we’re seeing several reports of teachers in relationships with students every year but that doesn’t mean it’s happening a lot statistically. I’m sure this has been happening for centuries, today we just have he means to communicate about it across the world if we want. There is nothing a society can do about a problem like this one. It specifically takes the parents or guardians of children to educate them within their immediate family on acceptable behavior. At the end of the day, this teacher didn’t physically force this student into this relationship. She offered, he accepted, then it got out of hand as expected. I’d be curious to know how many high school boys have said “no” to a grown woman offering up a physical relationship. I’m sure it is a lot fewer statistically than the number of girls offered by grown men. The females on this blog might not be able to accept it or understand it but most boys of that age are not thinking of themselves as victims based on the physical relationship alone.

I’m not saying what happened is ok, but I am saying there were two different problems in play here. From the student’s perspective, how is the physical relationship any worse than having relations with a peer? Either way he’s having a sexual relationship. If this relationship had started next week would this be a big deal? It would still be viewed as strange for a 29 year old woman reaching down to an 18 year old man but people would quickly discard this story. The second problem is that of an adult in a position of authority taking advantage of a “child”. The second issue is the one everyone should be up in arms about. It doesn’t matter if she’s asking him to wash her car, cut her grass, or having a physical relationship. Adults taking advantage of children then holding something over their head like grades is the major issue here. Trust me, this “boy” will not be emotionally scarred for having the physical relationship with the teacher.

NHall

May 27th, 2010
9:31 am

My comment is awaiting moderation? Interesting.

former gwinnett educator

May 27th, 2010
9:33 am

@Rebecca, you are correct about that. I have still be searching the news for the unfolding events at a particular elementary school that had a principal removed with 5 days left in the school year. A school that Wilbanks himself visited this Monday. It is amazing how some things will forever remain “unknown”.

Hey Teacher

May 27th, 2010
9:35 am

I’ve taught in several different schools and ALL of them had a teacher, or several teachers, that had affairs with students and went on to marry them. While everyone snickered about it, it certainly wasn’t newsworthy.

Subrational

May 27th, 2010
9:35 am

If this were a male teacher, he would be deemed a predator and likely in jail. Moreover, this definitely goes on more often than people think or hear about.

Mia Strozier

May 27th, 2010
9:39 am

I understand this is a top story, BUT since when do we Publicly put this picture in the paper? I could be wrong , but does this protect the victim? Showing the aggressor would automatically identify the victim. Is that not right? I am saddened that we now have to watch the school so closely. My problem is , are we as PARENTS doing enough to get in involved so this do not continue to happen.? I think the age of some of our teachers and the aGE SOME OF THESE KIDS ARE GETTING OUT OF SCHOOL IS JUST TOO CLOSE, NOW IN THIS CASE, IF IT IS TRUE, THIS WAS JUST PLAIN foolish. i KNOW WE AS SISYERS SELF ESTEME IS NOT THIS LOW, THAT WE NEED A YOUNG ADULT TO GIVE US HAPPINESS. i HONEST WANT TO BELIEVE THIS WAS a consenual relationshp, not that that makes it right. On the other hand, have you seen the kids that are in school today? I am a parent of a child that looks another age. I have a 12 year old, that without makeup contacts, suggestive clothing and grown up hair do, look like she can be 17 body wise, but if you look in her face, you can tell she is a young child. So as thuis is a problem, I make sure she is still dressing like a 12 year old. I still shop for her. She dont go to the mall or hang out. She is still a child. She do not have boyfriends, unless they are at school. She do not receive phone calls, she do nnot havbe a cell phone, she do not go anywhere wiithout me. PERIOD. We must keep our children in the right frame of mind for their age. I am not sayiong this is the parents fault, I am sayiong that too many times , I see teachers getting caught up, and you do not not the child from the teacher anymore. But at the same time, a teacher knows what their job is, and it is not to have sex with their students. What a waste, all this time in school preparing for a careeer and blow all that for a kustful tasts, that is neber going to be more then that . A shame A shame A shame. SMDH

EnoughAlready

May 27th, 2010
9:41 am

It’s really very sad and this isn’t new. I grew up in the 80’s and it was happening, it just never made the news. In my high school there were coaches and teachers with students; many were old and had been dating students for years. Some were so “fresh” we were warned by other students to stay away and don’t visit the class when class is not in session. I remember parents trying to get some of these favorite coaches and teachers fired, but they were unsuccessful. No one wanted to believe it was happening and that it was just rumors.

I have been warning my daughter about teachers since elementary school. It’s really very sad.

Emily

May 27th, 2010
9:43 am

I believe that we as adults have to control ourselves despite any situation. A child is a child no matter if he plays football or not. Children still have fear of disappointing adults and in most times fall prey to advances and peer pressure. This is not a reflection of the school but just a reflection of a teacher gone bad. There are wonderful children who go to that school who seek a quality education and get it!! The school was actually getting better

ann

May 27th, 2010
9:45 am

first why is the young man going to school in GA and he is a resident of NC his mother stated that he got in with the wrong crowd back home why wasn’t he sent too another school there funny how he came to GA uncle is a coach and get a scholarship back home I have a problem with what was done why didn’t he report the teacher before he got the failing grade this need some more investigation. hmmm!!!

JEWELL ROLLEN

May 27th, 2010
9:46 am

“She earned it,” her father, Dennis Hall, said. “I believe this is the action of Principal [Gwen] Tatum. It definitely opens the county up for a defamation lawsuit. … How can seven years of teaching and a reputation be destroyed because of the word of one knucklehead? I think that’s wrong.”

SINCE SHE HAS ADMITTED TO THE AFFAIR, DOES THIS MAKE HER THE KNUCKLEHEAD DAD? JUS’ SAYIN’…….

Emily

May 27th, 2010
9:46 am

@catlady: I agree with the others that the teacher is obviously at fault (particularly because she wielded the power), but I most certainly agree with you too! It’s not like that kid is the Student of the Year either.

And according to the article, sexual predators aside, only recently did Georgia decide all student-teacher sexual relationships are illegal, regardless of consent. He obviously consented. Like everyone else said, this type of thing has always gone on, it’s only a timing issue that suddenly it’s officially illegal.

Tiger Woods

May 27th, 2010
9:47 am

On another note…Teachers, especially High School Teachers are freaks. This is a well known fact in single circles. Go to any bar or lounge with a happy hour that caters to school teachers and see if your odds of taking one home that night dont shoot thru the roof. I dont know what it is but ever school teacher I have dealt with on that level, married or single, has been pretty loose.

Emily

May 27th, 2010
9:48 am

@Ann: Yeah! I am also suspicious regarding the football angle… if his uncle is the football coach, couldn’t his moving in with him be construed as some kind of unfair recruiting? I don’t know, maybe he isn’t any good at football, but I’m throwing it out there.

Rebecca

May 27th, 2010
9:50 am

@ former gwinnett educator. Not suprising. Earlier in the year, a 6th grader with special needs committed suicide (off school property). An abundance of rumors and not one parent knows the real truth, I am told, due to privacy laws. How does the administration expect parents to have open and honest discussions with our kids if they can’t be forthright with the truth.

educator by proxy

May 27th, 2010
9:52 am

I am related to a GCPS employee & have heard of several incidents over the years that never make the news. This particular incident came to a head just about two months ago and is just hitting the news now. Gwinnett does many things well and many things that are very frustrating – however everyone in administration in GCPS knows how to work PR to their advantage. Just think back to Rick Badie’s glowing column about how Shiloh High School’s principal is turning things around! This is the same school…..

EMMA

May 27th, 2010
9:55 am

WTF!!!! I am so sick and tired of reading about teacher and student escapades!!! It’s so sickening. I send my child to go to school to learn not be seduced, by a teacher. How disrespectul. It’slike an everyday occurence. I am so paranoid that I make sure I meet all of the teachers and I ask my child everyday what happend at school. What was their day like why did you stay late and with whom? I feel like the FBI, but doggone psychologically it can really mess a child up

Rebecca

May 27th, 2010
9:55 am

@ ann GCPS is rampant with students from Dekalb in the same situation. The system either looks the other way or doesn’t investigate each case thoroughly enough. GCPS likes the play the numbers, bigger is better.

EnoughAlready

May 27th, 2010
9:59 am

This should have been law 100 years ago and it shouldn’t matter the age. They are children until they are out of highschool, because we(parents) are expected to provide for their well being. And as a parent of an absolutely beautiful 15 year old student, I would do everything in my power to have a teacher sentenced to the max, no matter if it were consentual.

Parents are expected to take care of 17 and 18 year olds until they graduate from highschool, so the law should protect them from teachers and other adults for the same time period.

Subrational

May 27th, 2010
9:59 am

@ed
Wow! When did you get the wireless in your double-wide! Watch out for dem tornaders! I hope to see ya on da news in your ol’ wife beater sayin’ “it sounded like uh frate-trane, it did”

A. Parent

May 27th, 2010
10:00 am

OK, For the “this happens all the time” crowd, let’s eliminate the consensual relationship and consider the allegation about the teacher using her position of authority to threaten the student with a failing grade. Isn’t this what is referrend to as a “hostile work environment” or “sexual harrassment”? The use of excessive force by some police officers has been around since we’ve had police officers, should we simply accept this as a fact of life and move on?

catlady

May 27th, 2010
10:01 am

I also note he reported the “abuse” AFTER he got the failing grade.

Jim

May 27th, 2010
10:01 am

When will people realize that teacher of the year is the most bogus award there is. It doesn’t mean the teacher is a quality educator; it means that the person is popular with the faculty. Sounds like Ms. Hall was a poorly educated teacher that made some very poor decisions.

zoe

May 27th, 2010
10:02 am

I went through a teaching program with someone I considered a friend. Our advisor HATED me, loved her. After graduation, we’re both teaching, she gets a job in South Georgia on the coast, I’m in the metro area. Within the first two months of taaching, there is a warrant for her arrest, she is accused of sleeping with a student. After fleeing the jurisdiction (including a trip through the midwest and then to Germany) she surrenders, pleads guilty and is now a registered sex offender. Me? I’m finishing up my 11th year, doing my best in the same system I was hired in. I always found it funny that our advisor thought I would be terrible and I’m now one of the most successful AP teachers in our system and the one our advisor thought was so awesome didn’t even finish her first year before losing her certificate.

Subrational

May 27th, 2010
10:02 am

@ Jim

I agree. Moreover, what does it say about the teachers who so blindly nominated her?

Pat21

May 27th, 2010
10:10 am

I guess the teacher thought that if she was impregnated by this “up and coming football star” she might eventually score the big bucks if he went pro. Obviously, that was a huge gamble since she will be flipping burgers at Wendy’s now…

double standard

May 27th, 2010
10:17 am

i know some will say its different he is a guy. but the fact remains the person was a minor. what did the teacher think he would quit school they get married and live happily ever after?

teachers male and female need more law classes in college

also diversity training expose them to persons of color, different nationality, and/or religions. not the militant kind just normal folk that can tell their stories

like i have said before; some of these “educated” ppl do the stupidest things

Maureen Downey

May 27th, 2010
10:22 am

NHAll, The problem is that you implicated a student in your post without any verification. I don’t mind criticisms of school leaders for whom public scrutiny is expected, but I don’t want a student’s reputation put on the line with something that has not been verified. I get a lot of postings alleging that principals are sleeping with this assistant or that one based on hearsay, and I try to catch and stop all of them as I think that such allegations don’t belong on the blog.

Just A Teacher

May 27th, 2010
10:24 am

There are two separate issues here. Aren’t there? The first is the teacher / student relationship which has been breached. This is a matter for the PSC and the local school system. The second is criminal liability. This doesn’t seem to be a criminal offense since the young man is above the age of consent.