Several weeks ago a new friend (a fellow blogger! ) wrote to me to say that she liked my blog and that she had a Beast Story of her own. She gave me a precise of that story and I could see that although there was clearly something of a beastly nature there, it was not clear to me that it really fit in with the kinds of stories I was looking for for Breath of the Beast. I read it several times and finally decided that the smell of the beast was strong on her story that I had to follow up on it. I wrote back to Nancy and asked her to give me more- to flesh-out the story so that I had something more to go on.
I am finding out that it is a peculiarity of Beast Encounters that often we don’t recognize them right away- sometimes its only as we recall them years later, that we see how the impression left by them fits the footprint of the beast. The art of Beast Tracking- something I am learning to do as I go along- requires attention to detail, sensitivity and, above all, memory.
Nancy’s story comes out of our public school system. The educational system is a favorite lair for the beast. As I have already pointed out, there are dimly lit recesses in our schools where in the dim light of “progressive” moral relativism, liberal sentiments intermingle and breed with leftist ideologies. The result is not always as obvious as in the case of “Lego Town” and the dangers are not as transparent as collectivist prejudice and propaganda. There are, to be sure, pestholes where our children are indoctrinated and defiled with cultural poisons that threaten to leave us susceptible to the terror and virulence of the Caliphate. But even more insidious and destructive is the way in which good, moral people like Nancy Coppock are weeded out of the teaching profession to make room for ever more compliant and “progressive” teachers.
Here is Nancy’s story:
My Beast Story
My own brush with the Beast came back in the spring semester of 1991. I was a humble middle school remedial reading teacher in a small Texas town outside this major university town. I was a good teacher, an achieving teacher, as the California Achievement Test scores proved. I had taught at this school for 8 years with incredible results, improving reading scores every year. I was friendly with teachers and staff and exhibited a positive work ethic.
I tell you this to let you know that I took my job very seriously because to me, the best thing I could do for mid- to below-average students, many minority and poor, was to make sure they could read to the best of their ability. I believed that a lack of historical context made it difficult for my students to achieve in social studies, state history, and American history classes. I used young adult literature to match these classes with biographies or historical fiction, and filled in with just fun books that were at my student’s intellectual level rather than reading level. My teaching style was to be positive, caring, charitable discipline-wise, and to create an aura of the fantastic world of learning.
During this year, I was given a small special education class. The students' classifications were different from my regular remedial readers. Due to several factors, this class dwindled to only one student. This student was very intelligent but his emotional problems had severely stunted his education. By 8th grade this was becoming extremely apparent, as he was being mainstreamed into regular classes. When a special education student is mainstreamed into a regular classroom, his records are private and the other parents are not made aware of these things.
I was a very empathic person as a child, because at the age of 12, my youngest sister was born with a form of retardation. Therefore, I grew up in a family where "normal" was more a setting on the dishwasher. Having grown up loving and accepting people as they were, I immediately was able to see this young man as an individual. He could be cunning to the point of scariness, but his sense of justice could be pointed in the right direction if done with honesty and fairness. The principal noticed this when I was able to shame the young man into accepting just discipline. He had committed the particular offense, and was trying to blur the situation with extraneous information but he knew that I knew the truth.
The student respected me almost instantly for this quality. The principal was amazed. So, when I informed the principal that my class had dwindled to this one student--which to me was completely cost ineffective--the principal put his arm on my shoulder and told me, "We see you have a way with Duane. Maybe this is a time for him." When I countered that I was not a counselor, he said, “We all have to be counselors sometimes.” These were his exact words.
So, Duane and I began. Besides reading, we also worked on assignments from his English teacher. Soon, he began to ask me questions like "Why don 't you have children, Mrs. C.? You would love one so much." Straightforwardly I answered, "We don't always get everything we want and besides if I did have my own kids, I might be so filled up and preoccupied that I paid no attention to you. Now get back to work." I knew that He harbored deep anger and could hold a grudge for a perceived fault forever, but that if gently prodded in the right direction, he could be a complete lamb. With me he found a safe harbor and answers to the imponderables of life that he could trust.
Once, I used an event from his past to try to point him in the right direction. I said, “I heard something about you from kindergarten. I heard that when Mrs. Duane tried to give you a paddling for being bad, that you took the paddle out of her hand and started hitting her with it! What on earth where you thinking?” He was a great big young man and he just laughed and laughed. “I don’t know what I was thinking. That was sure a dumb thing to do. That was so wrong.”
One day he came into the classroom and pulled down my maps saying he was just looking for an island, somewhere he could go to get away from everybody and just live. It was incredibly sad. I used the situation to teach a lesson on maps and the globe.
Later, such talk was to be used against me, but I thought it important for Duane to be treated like a valid person who had questions about the realities of life, which it seemed like his emotional disturbance was preventing him from learning. Here I was, a teacher committed to creating the aura of learning being the most exciting endeavor in life, and it was like Annie Sullivan banging away at Helen Keller: W-A-T-E-R. I had been told I had a way this young man. I had been told that we all have to be counselors sometimes. I had only one student for this class and I struggled to balance his necessary schoolwork with trying to educate him about life's realities and to give him confidence that he could control his emotions to accept these realities.
It was emotionally draining for me. After that class I still had 2 other classes to teach with the last class being predominately 8th grade boys who had reached their saturation point of listening, learning, and sitting still. It was a grueling schedule but I was not a complainer.
Unbeknownst to me, my student began to tell several other teachers that I was just too nice and somebody was going to hurt me. I was completely unaware of this development.
One Friday a few weeks before Spring Break, I was in the portable classroom next to mine visiting with the other remedial reading teacher. We tried to stay generally in the same chapter of the books we taught and we discussed our lesson plans and such. The student was quiet and puttering around the room, as kids will. Suddenly he plunged a sharp pair of scissors downward toward my face. He stopped himself just short of contact and I could see the sharp point just inches from the point between my eyes. We stood as if locked together; the class bell rang and he lowered the scissors and quietly put them away.
I was taken completely unawares. If he had wanted to hurt me, it would have been over, as I didn't even have time to raise my arm in defense. I closed my eyes and prayed for God to meet me. It was surreal and my mind wasn't blank, but it wasn’t processing this reality. I just went on as if nothing had happened and automatically knew I needed to greet my next class at the door. I finished the day and it was as if the event had been erased from my mind. The other teacher didn’t ask me about the event. As I made my commute home, my mind began to recollect that something happened. Something weird. When I got home I called the other teacher and asked her if it had really happened.
I then called the principal. My first concern was for the student. I wanted to make sure that he understood what he was being punished for. This was so paramount that I made a foolish statement: I said that I didn’t want Duane punished because there was an undercurrent of animosity between he and the principal.
I just wanted Duane to know that he could not ever do such a thing again. That I got his message loud and clear. That I was teaching a rowdy bunch of boys who were all in some sort of juvenile parole program, in a portable building, detached from the world. And, the ultimate reality check was that a student doesn’t have to bring a weapon from home. The danger is in the intent of the mind. A person intent upon doing evil can use, as a weapon, any of the things I thought of only as tools: a pencil or pen, scissors, compass points, a broken piece from a desk… If someone wants to do evil, the intent is first in his mind. As clearly as I had learned my lesson, I wanted him to learn this lesson because otherwise he would be forever lost.
It was then I learned that a taxpayer paid private psychologist, whom I had never seen or heard of, worked with him once a week. The doctor invited me to attend a session with Duane to discuss the event. The session was very stilted and contrived. In fact, Duane just got up and left the room for 15-20 minutes. I don’t know where he went. The doctor just sat there and asked no questions of me and when I asked where Duane went, the doctor said he often left during sessions. Several days later, the doctor brought him by my room and he apologized. It was all stilted and contrived. There was no real honesty, nor were we allowed to talk to each other. We were told to stay away from each other and we did and it just broke my heart to see him buzzing around the hallway when I was on morning duty. It was as if he wanted me to know he was sorry and that he was worried about me, but we couldn’t just talk to each other.
One morning, I had heard through the grapevine that Duane had come into the office and demanded to be punished. What he got was the arm on the shoulder telling him to be a good’ol boy and everything was going to be all right. To me, that demand was a plea for help, for absolution. He needed punishment to get beyond this event. We needed to talk to each other, the way we had been. The fact that we weren't allowed to talk to each other was a sort of stigma that maybe we had been doing something improper and this was the reason –– had done what he had done. This was the undercurrent I was getting from other teachers. That this would have never happened to them, because they knew better than I. Which leads quickly to the notion that I got what I deserved.
I happened to see the doctor in the hall the day of the demand for punishment and asked if I could attend another session. When asked why, I told about the plea for punishment and that I felt like he needed some sort of absolution. Well, that conversation ended abruptly. I was told it would be *inappropriate *for me to attend another session and was sent on my way. Evidently, the doctor went straight to the school counselor, who then typed up a memo listing the reasons why I should be sent home from school because I was dangerous to Duane.
Things like not wanting to punish Duane but now wanting him punished, being fearful of going to the portable building that my class was in, crying, and even not eating in the teacher’s lounge... I was going over to the cafeteria because I didn’t bring a lunch. Everything was listed as reasons that I was the danger not only to Duane, but to the entire campus. Also noted was that they wanted to talk my husband into having me committed to the hospital for which the doctor worked. At the end of the day, I was asked to go over to the superintendent’s office to discuss something. I was informed that I was to not return to work until a psychiatrist had examined me and found me suitable for work. The superintendent either through mistake or on purpose handed me a sheaf of papers with the bottom page being the incriminating memo.
The odd thing is that while everyone knew about the event, no one talked about it openly. No one ever asked me what I thought about the situation. No one asked me how I was doing. The one voice of encouragement was a quickly whispered, “We think you are getting a bad deal” as we passed in a crowded hallway. It was like the elephant in the room that went unmentioned. I could walk into a room and it was like turning on a light in a kitchen full of roaches. I was totally alienated. The event was simply not discussed. I couldn’t bring it up. Duane and I were not to talk to each other. It was a surreal situation. I couldn’t believe I was being treated this way. If people think you are crazy, then everything you do is seen through that prism. I was no longer one of the people I had taught with and worked with for years, I was different. I was a reminder of what could happen to them all. And even more horrifying, Duane, unbalanced as could be, was sitting next to everyday parents'--your--children, and the parents didn’t have a right to know! Unbelievable. And I was the one everyone needed protection from.
I received my walking papers from the superintendent with promises that if I did as they requested, we could all sit down and talk. So, I found myself sitting in front of a computer where some metro-sexual psychologist had set me up to take this “test”. He left me in the little closet and I began. Finally, the questions got into things that were I to have talked about in the class room, I would have been in trouble. Things like, did I believe Jesus walked on water? Did I believe Jesus turned the water to wine? “Oh my God,” I thought and just laid my head on the desk, thinking, “Here I am because they do not want to hear what I think, under the threat of having someone else commit me to a mental hospital and thereby losing my right of autonomy, and now they are asking me the most personal questions about my faith. What if it's all a trick? The doctor overseeing the test gave me the creeps, so I didn't trust him at all. "Oh, God,” I prayed, “Just tell me what to say so I can get out of here a free woman.” So, that’s the way I answered those questions. I just wanted to be able to leave the office, get in my car and drive to my house and lock the door.
That was the event that ended a stellar teaching career. The metro-sexual doctor didn’t stamp me approved or disapproved. Instead I was stamped on the forehead with a big question mark. I was tainted. I cared what people thought. The meeting the superintendent promised never happened. When I told my principal that I didn’t think I was being treated fairly, I received a blistering dressing down in front of the secretary: "Well that’s your opinion." I closed my mouth and finished the year, including having Duane as my student. On the last day of school, Duane cried like a big baby, wondering what he was going to do without me. That I was the only one that understood him. I told him that if his head was spinning and he picked up a weapon he was messing up and to please never forget this lesson. He was in anguish because he knew I had been punished for what he had done. I encouraged him to go, fly, live a good life, be free.
At our last teacher meeting, we heard a “sermon” about how a wayward student had come back to his hometown and had apologized at the church for having been a problem in his earlier years. We were told how we never knew how what we say to our students is going to take root and finally sink in and change a life for the better. I wanted to tell them all that while that may be true, if something strange happens while you are going that extra mile, brothers and sisters, you are on your own. But I said nothing, just laid my throbbing forehead on the cool Formica of my desk. My only victory was that they didn’t make me cry. I was beaten and crushed in every way but in my mind. My trust for my fellow man was zero. My fear of rowdy 8th grade boys was growing exponentially. I had endured a great loss that I could not discuss with anyone because I could see the disbelief in their eyes and know that my story to them was a complete fabrication. I had a life with a dark spot upon it that could never be adequately explained without the hearer's suspended disbelief allowing a kernel of truth to settle in and change their entire perspective of the goodness of humanity and the state of affairs in our public schools. Such are the marks I bear from the beast.
On the last teacher workday, I had a letter to the editor published in the weekly small town paper. I didn't say anything about the event, only alluded to a problem. I told who I was, what I had done for the district, and that promises had been made and not kept. I wrote that this was not out of concern for myself, but for fellow teachers and students. That day, I was extremely weary. I had finished the year and held my head up through every sort of humiliation. A group of teachers came to the door of my classroom and asked me to step outside. This was to be the final humiliation as they berated me for my letter. "We don't appreciate what you have done..." They did not make me cry. I maintained my dignity and said that I was sorry they felt that way. We were all supposed to meet in the school library for a luncheon, a final meeting, and then dismissed for summer. When the teachers left, I told the other remedial reading teacher that was still in her room and not a part of the final lynch mob, that I was going home. And so I left and no one has contacted me since.
Over the years I have learned that the Superintendent, the counselor, and the curriculum director all moved to other districts that summer. I don't know if there is any connection. These are just interesting facts.
A few years ago, there was a robbery involving a victim being shot in the leg, a high-speed chase where the robber pulled over his car and shot at the pursuing police. It was Duane. I went to the sentencing and introduced myself. When I told him I had never stopped caring about what was going to happen to him, this grown up criminal teared up and almost started crying. I urged him to think about Jesus because He could heal all his hurts. Then the officers led him away.
All said, this entire story was just a giant bonfire of humanity. The rest of them upon hearing of his arrest probably shook their heads, saying "We did all we could for that boy, but we knew this was where he was heading." I haven't found my happy ending. I pray for the restoration like the Biblical Job,. Instead, I receive small tender mercies to get me through the day, like daily manna in the wilderness. I'm still a thought-criminal struggling to make a living and just trying to live a normal life after being crushed to point of emotional death and he's a felon who will be contained in a prison cell for every second of his 75 year sentence. The beast always enjoys a good human bonfire.
So, it's not about Caliphate Islame but when I got to this paragraph, I knew why I had been so drawn to Nancy Coppock and her story- Here is the "Other Head" of The Beast:
“ One morning, I had heard through the grapevine that --- had come into the office and demanded to be punished. What he got was the arm on the shoulder telling him to be a good’ol boy and everything was going to be all right. To me, that demand was a plea for help, for absolution. He needed punishment to get beyond this event. We needed to talk to each other, the way we had been. The fact that we weren't allowed to talk to each other was a sort of stigma that maybe we had been doing something improper and this was the reason –– had done what he had done. This was the undercurrent I was getting from other teachers. That this would have never happened to them, because they knew better than I. Which leads quickly to the notion that I got what I deserved.”
There is was, the same liberal prejudice that mutated into Lego Town was at work denying this young man what he needed most, the knowledge that he would be held responsible for his deeds; Being rewarded with the knowledge that, even though he would suffer for it, some one had better expectations of him.
You can just imagine the mewling, fawning intellectual rationalizations, “We are here to educate – not to punish” or “If we treat this as a serious thing, we will have to call in the police and we will lose control of the situation.” That kind, liberal, conflict averse principal might as well have driven Duane to the state penitentiary that very day- he would, at least, have saved Duane’s victim a bullet in the leg.
He, of course, also condemned Nancy Coppock to losing her profession at the same time.
I finish reading this story with a deep sense of tragedy. There are two tragedies really, there is it the solitary, neglected life of Duane- a result of both his shattered home life that isolated him and the system that “protected” him from the kind of help he needed the most. And there is the tragedy of Nancy Coppock who, because of her innate sense of what is right and moral ran afoul of the liberal, secular humanist, moral relativism that turns what is best and strongest about us into something untouchable.