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One of the Good Ones

One of the Good Ones

Liberty Middle School teacher Walter Ruffin made national news last week after a cell phone video of him breaking up a fight hit the internet. In the video, Mr. Ruffin appears to be the kind of Joe Clark figure Sarah Lena was yearning for earlier this year. A teacher and motivational figure that could change our school system from one filled with hoodlums to one filled with learners.

When this story circulated in our local media outlets, people had plenty to say and against my better judgement I read the comments left on Facebook posts and internet articles. I usually shy away from internet commenters since almost always they find a way to blame Obama for anything bad and if Obama doesn’t fit, well the immigrants are probably to blame for it then. These are not usually people looking to create dialogue. Still, I couldn’t look away.

Two comments struck me as particularly irksome. First was the commenter who praised Ruffin and stated, “so glad to see one of the good ones, we need more like him.” Another person felt that Ruffin, “dressed like a professional and therefore demanded respect, unlike most of the teachers at my daughter’s school.” Most everyone had great things to say about Ruffin and his “heroic” action but at least half took this as an opportunity to degrade the teaching profession at the same time they praised “one of the good ones.”

I want to make it clear that Ruffin is THE STANDARD. Most teachers are incredible at what they do, they are professionals who deserve our praise and respect and GRATEFULNESS for not only watching over our most treasured possessions everyday but imparting on them the wisdom and knowledge that they need to function in our society and become better human beings.

The real shocking aspect of the video and one that almost no one brought up, is that all teachers have to deal with this type of student behavior and lack of respect everyday. We don’t hear about it or see it on the news because it’s not videotaped by a student but it happens EVERY DAY. Don’t believe me? Let Mr. Ruffin tell you himself.

I want you to think for a second about how excited you would be to go to a job everyday where the likelihood was high that you would be responsible for breaking up a fight or that one of your coworkers might bring a weapon to your workplace. Is that a job you’d be clamoring for? Let’s add to that the fact that you would be asked to pay for many of your office supplies. That your CEO believes you deserve the bare minimum salary for your job while he/she deserves well over the maximum allowed for their position.

Sound appealing? Yes, Mr. Ruffin is a hero but not because he broke up a fight. Because he is a teacher. He’s one of so many “good ones” that it’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture. In our search for someone to blame for our societal ills, the last place we need to look is directly at those on the front lines of the battle to change our future. In the words of Mr. Ruffin, “there wasn’t anything heroic in that, this is what teachers do on a daily basis.”


View Comments (7)
  • Very good point, Jennifer. Teachers do deal with this on a regular basis. My mom has been a high school teacher for more than 45 years, and she’s seen it all, from guns to fights. Now she is about 5-foot-tall and weighs less than 100 lbs., but she’s never shied away from her job from fear of students….EXCEPT when she wasn’t backed up by the principal, the administrators, and the parents. When discipline was absent at home, when the principal chose to look the other way and ignore bad behavior, then she was frustrated and angry. The kids knew there were no consequences and it affected the classroom in multiple ways. When I saw this story, I thought, “Liberty must have a good principal.” We need to make sure that we, as parents, are doing our job and that our teachers have the support they need before we blame them for poor behavior in schools.

  • I have had a wide variety of experiences with different teachers. My daughter is still in public school but my son now goes to a military school 3.5 hours away.

  • You are correct! There are so many great teachers and I am very thankful for them! They need raises! Unfortunately, there are also a bunch of lousy ones too. My child has had the misfortune to have several of the lousy at a “blue ribbon school” in Huntsville. Complaints to the administration were to no avail. The teachers are still there doing lousy jobs now. If I did a lousy job, I would be fired. They should be too.

    • Diane – I don’t disagree with you at all. Lousy teachers exist just as lousy lawyers, lousy salespeople, and lousy plumbers exist. I was simply trying to make the point that they do not make up the majority of the profession. In fact, they are the exception rather than the rule. I do find it troubling that your child had several at the same school. That seems like an administrative problem and if nothing has happened after going through the proper channels (complaints to principal, then superintendent, then school board), I’d find other parents who feel the same way and make a louder ruckus.

      Unfortunately, Huntsville has suffered a lot of terrible teachers for many years now and I do hope that changes with this new administration. However, I get upset when I see an entire profession disregarded because of a few bad apples.

  • There are a lot of good teachers. My children have been fortunate to have good teachers and some extraordinary teachers too. They really can make a difference and change the course of a child’s life.

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