Dear readers: This shocking story was told to me by a teacher that I met a couple of weeks ago at an education conference. TWP changed the names and omitted a few details to protect privacy- but the story’s troubling perspective reinforces our misgivings about c.p. in secondary schools.
A TEACHER’S PADDLING: THE OTHER END
Hi, my name is Courtney and I am a teacher from … and I have seen your blog on “WHY WE ARE OPPOSED TO CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN SECONDARY SCHOOL.” I have experienced paddlings from both ends and believe me, secondary school paddlings, in my opinion, ARE inherently abusive for the same reasons you gave in your blog.
My story goes back some ten years ago to when I was a junior in high school. A quick rundown of the characters:
Courtney (me): Typical high school girl, non-beauty queen but still nice looking, marching band flag twirler, smart and outgoing, never a trouble maker.
Marcy (friend): Just like me but played flute in band. A brunette who is cute but got along with everyone that was nice to her.
Sara (friend): Like Marcy and me but was on cheerleading team. Pretty blond but never a snob- she really was the least snobbish cheerleader on the team- was open to anybody that was nice to her.
Beth (enemy): Not a bad person but came from a well-to-do family whose mother and grandmother were teachers and traced her family roots back to the first settlers of the county over 200 years ago. I had the curse of having Beth’s mom and g-mom for elementary teachers- their reputation as the meanest teachers in the area was well deserved. They both used large paddles with holes on some of my friends IN FRONT OF THE CLASS! To witness a beating of a 7 or 9 year old classmate just for talking with a paddle swung like in a home run derby was horrible. And worse was the demented smile of g-mom afterward. The mom was no better and both paddled an average of once a week. I can still clearly remember friends bawling their eyes out after being paddled to this day.
Nancy (enemy): Similar to Beth in status and family history, Nancy was Beth’s sidekick and the two were quick to turn on anyone who didn’t belong to their social orbit.
Donna (enemy): The typical blond cheerleader captain, Donna’s mom was the principal of my elementary school and during that time Donna was the school brat! Wonder why? Donna, Beth, Nancy, Sara and I were all cheerleaders but I was the only one who did not have family ties to the school district.
Coach B (worst enemy): This 6’4″ 240 pound idiot coach is the reason for this story. He would never have been hired as a teacher but for the fact his daddy was a retired former coach as well as his uncle being on the school board. His nick name was “Coach Paddle-Hard” and he tried to live up to it!
Least anyone think that I am giving an anti-c.p. sob story- Please read the story first!
My story started on one spring morning as Marcy, Sara, and myself were all close to being tardy as I drove my Dad’s rebuilt old Ford Mustang into the parking lot and rushing out- bumped my car door against Beth’s brand new Nissan sports coup.
“Why did you do that!” Beth screamed, “You ruined my car you stupid bitch!”
“Relax, Beth- I don’t see anything.” I replied while checking for a dent or scratch.
“I think we need to call police!” blurted Nancy to which Donna added, “Absolutely…I agree!”
As we rushed into the school, the arguing continued as Beth and her friends continued to say that I was careless and my friends stating,” Beth, get over yourself!”
While frantically opening our lockers-Beth and mine were #422 and #423- we kept our back and forth and then- the unexpected.
The reason all of us were running behind is that we all bought our cigarettes at the stop-and-go in the morning because the early shift lady did not check ID’s. Well, instead of leaving mine in the car, I boo booed by accidentally carrying them in my coat pocket into the building-a major rule violation. (The school did not check cars for banned items) Then, the worst happened- my cigarette pack fell out of the pocket onto the floor! Before I could react, Beth exclaimed, “Aha.. those are a no no!” and with a swift kick, knocked them out of my reach and towards an approaching Coach B as I chased the sliding pack down the hall. Coach B grabbed the pack saying, “Lost something Courtney, dear?…We do not allow students to smoke.” I was speechless looking up at him as he gave an evil grin. *Come with me, Courtney,” Coach B ordered as I pleaded while looking back at Beth who muffed a “Sorry!” with her hand covering her mouth. I was able to read her eyes and they were not sorry but rather laughing.
“I’ll get you for this, Beth- I swear!” I shot back as I turned and followed Coach B to his office.
In his office, Coach B gave me two choices- Evening school or the paddle. I was working after school four days a week to pay for the overhaul of the engine in my mustang- so that option was out. I tried to talk my way out but Coach B was firm- one or the other. Not wanting to lose my car- I decided on the paddle.
“It isn’t as bad as you may have heard- 5 quick swats and we are done!” said Coach B as he pulled out a huge paddle. It must have been at least 24″ long and looked about 1″ thick and had holes like the ones I saw on the elementary school paddles years earlier.
Trembling, I bent over- placing my hands against the wall while Coach B called in his sidekick, Coach A, “Come join the party, A…we are going to warm some buns!” Holding my sunglasses in my left hand, I could see in the reflection Coach B rear back, gripping the baseball bat like handle with both hands while lifting the paddle high- nearly touching the ceiling. He then swung- HARD.
The paddle landed on my cheerleader skirt covered backside with a sound like a pistol shot.SMAAACK! The pain was instant and so severe that I dropped the glasses as the force of the blow pushed me into the wall. I was gasping and choking on my own tears as my bottom felt like I had sat on a hot stove.
I know that I was bruised when Coach B ordered me back into position. The second swat probably broke a blood vessel on my left cheek and the third did likewise to my right.
“Please, Coach B, no more…I cannot take any more!” I cried out.
‘You know the deal, Courtney…You have two more…So- back in position-NOW!”
My knees shaking, I got back in position and once more, the paddle thundered on my black and blue bottom. I was unable to brace myself any longer and just fell forward into the wall, not caring any more what Coach B said.
“One more!” Coach B proclaimed as he manually pulled and pushed me into position. When the final swat landed, I thought my bottom was numb but it was not and the pain was unbearable as I fell forward again and then slid in to the corner, sobbing while holding my blistered and bruised bottom. I can certainly attest to the fact that cheerleader uniforms offer no padding whatsoever against a paddling like I endured.
“Whoa!…That is what I call a paddling!…It must be twenty degrees hotter in here!” joked Coach A as the both exchanged high fives.
I slowly left the coaches office- a beaten and bruised young lady. I somehow made it through the day- thanks to the moral support of my true friends Marcy and Sara and the knitted sweater that Sara loaned me to sit on.
I could not sit to drive home so Sara drove us to the Burger King parking lot where Sara and I worked. Also, this was where many students hung out after school to smoke and socialize in the back parking lot.
Seeing Beth, Nancy, and Donna laughing as they smoked away, I nearly lost it and only Marcy and Sara kept me from breaking Beth’s neck.
“I’m soooo sorry, Courtney babee!…I didn’t mean to get you in trouble!” admonished Beth, who could barely hid her glee.
“Not as sorry as you’re gonna be, Beth babee!” snapped Marcy-“Let get outa here!”
My two best friends in the world were able to get me off work a couple of days with Marcy spotting for me, figured out a way I could sick out of school two days while mom and dad were at work, and best of all- helped me to hatch a plan to turn the tables on Beth. We brainstormed our plot in my bedroom while I applied an ice pack to my purple rear end. We did not bother to complain to my folks because- what good would it do? In a small county like ours, everyone was connected: teachers-principals-school board-district attorney-Family Services-etc.
After a week, my butt was pain free for sitting and we launched our plan. First, get Beth’s locker combination from the office- not hard to do since one period a day Marcy answered phones as a student volunteer. Next, buy some Virginia Slims, Beth’s favorite brand and then coordinate a time when from separate classes we could meet and plant the contraband where it would be found by a tipped off Coach B. Operation Payback went off without a hitch as I planted the goods while Marcy and Sara served as lookouts. As we headed in different directions, I thanked them profusely but Sara just whispered, “What are real friends for?…I’ll make sure coach gets the tip!”
‘Now those were friends I’d do anything for…” I thought as I headed back to my Geography class which was also Beth’s class. She sat one desk across from me and one desk forward so I had a front row seat for when Beth would return from Coach B’s office. According to our plan, that would happen after Beth was summoned by intercom to go to Coach B’s office- for a taste of the fireworks she caused to be set off on my bottom.
When an unsuspecting Beth was paged, I could barely contain my glee and the waiting seemed like hours although it actually took about ten minutes. When Beth finally returned, the look on her face will be etched in my mind for life.
Beth slowly walked in, her face flushed and tears dripping off her chin as she tried wiping her face with one hand while clutching and rubbing her bottom with the other- oblivious to the rest of the class.
“What happened to you, Beth!” asked Mrs. C., our teacher.
“I’m o o o o.k., Mrs. C, I I I’ll be f f f fine,” Beth responded as she very slowly sat at her desk. She continued to clutch her bottom with both hands and then laid her head on the desk- sobbing like a small child.
My first reaction was of satisfaction- Justice at last!
Nancy and Donna reaction was of horror and shock- their mouths wide open in disbelief.
After the initial feeling of elation, I felt a little sorry for Beth. After all, despite our differences, she was still a student- one of us- and guilt seeped into my mind. This was reinforced by the treatment Beth received from her “friends” after school.
“Beth, how could you be so stupid as to take paddle swats?…You are going to be a teacher someday…and you took swats?Why?” asked Nancy.
“I did not want to miss the regional basketball game Friday night!” Beth answered meekly.
‘Well, make sure you don’t do any flips or hand stands- someone might see the part of your bottom which the uniform does NOT cover!” Donna opined.
That did it for me- those two were insensitive morons in my book. Until we graduated a year later, I tried to befriend Beth and while from different social orbits, we put our old histories behind us. Beth dropped off the cheerleading team- supposedly to improve her grades (She was a solid “B” student) and best of all, dropped her two so-called friends. She skipped the prom but did go the next year.
We all graduated and for a while , went in separate directions. Marcy and Sara went to a community college while Nancy, Donna, Beth, and I all choose to attend the University of … two hours up the interstate highway.
Then one day that fall, a freshman education major (me) bumped into BETH-of all people! After exchanging pleasantries, I told Beth about my choice of studies and asked, “Beth, why haven’t I seen you at the Education 101 class? You are going to be a teacher like your mom, aren’t you?”
“No, Courtney…I decided to major in social work instead…Just not interested in teaching,” replied Beth. That decision along with not joining her mom’s sorority ( It was across the street from my sorority) was stunning to me-and her family too, I’m sure. I’ll always wonder if what happened to her was the reason and if that affected her career decision.
On a 35,000 student campus, we did not see each other often and after four years, I graduated along with Nancy and Donna, as new teachers. Beth also graduated and moved to a big city- I haven’t seen her since.
Surprisingly, Donna and I both ended teaching where we schooled as elementary students- but Donna’s mom had retired early and daughter was on her own! The new principal was is “straight shooter” who told the teachers to tone down the paddles- smaller and NO holes whatsoever.
As a teacher, it may shock you but I DO use the paddle on occasion but never like what was done to me or what I saw done to others. A few swats when all else fails and as a last resort is NOT abusive and I have never bruised a single student in my teaching career.
As to Donna, when I finally got tired of her whining about her students and their misbehaving (she wanted her room to be tomb quiet and constantly berated the kids) , I just said, “You, your mom, and your grandmother all have one thing in common: Y’all cannot relate to anyone outside of your social circle- So go teach in a private school if you don’t like teaching here!”
She only lasted a year and moved on but you would not believe who became assistant principal-none other than good ol’ Coach B! I had just received tenure, so this was not a problem for me- but rather for Coach B.
“Coach B, I am sure you don’t remember me, but I’ll never forget what you did to me…” I calmly but sternly spoke in his office after an inservice meeting.
“Huh?” he stammered.
“I’m talking about the beating that you gave me a few years back…And that was a beating!…So, lets get two things straight-One, I have no respect for you personally or professionally and two, if you ever do to any child what you did to me, then I will testify against you in any legal matter!”
“Are you threatening me?” an ashen faced Coach B murmured.
“No, that is not a threat…its a promise!” I responded and walking out of the office, I turned and asked, “Did you ever get your car repaired?” (Sara, Marcy, and I keyed his new Buick and slashed all four tires-with help from our boyfriends) His face turned red and looked like he would explode! But what could he do now? Absolutely nothing! I just calmly walked away- not saying another word.
To end my story, let me just say that Coach B was never a problem for me and he lasted only a couple of years before moving on. Last I heard, he was in some financial trouble with a failed business scheme. As for me, I am still a teacher and while I sometimes paddle, no child in my school will go through what happened to me- and the other teachers know it!
Readers, due to the length of this story, we at TWP will create a follow up blog ASAP which will have commentary on this story and , of course, we want to receive your comments as well.
NEXT: TWP’S COMMENTARY ON “A TEACHER’S PADDLING: THE OTHER END”