Creative Teaching Awards
April 2, 2008

Subject: Animal care

Winner: Leslie Davis, of Savannah, Georgia

Approach: In May 2002, Davis assembled her elementary school students and took them to a nearby park – where they stole a duck from the pond. Then they went back to the school, where they planned to release the duck as a prank.

Reaction: The 23-year-old teacher was charged with public drunkenness, obstruction, and contributing to the delinquency of minors.


Subject: Fasion

Winner: Vice Principal Rita Wilson, Rancho Bernardo High School, Poway, California

Approach: During the 2002 April Dance, Ms. Wilson wanted to make sure that female students were following the dress code. So, as they were entering the building, she lifted up the girls’ skirts to see if they were wearing thong underwear, which was prohibited. According to a source, she even did so in front of male students.

Reacion: The Poway Unified School District investigated and concluded that the vice principal “used poor judgment”…then demoted her to a classroom teaching job.


Subject: Civics

Winner: School administrators at Hamilton High School, in Chandler, Arizona

Approach: As part of a law-enforcement training class, four students took part in a “gun drill,” storming school hallways with fake guns, shouting “Don’t make me do it!” But apparently someone had failed to warn the faculty about the drill.

 Reaction: Panicked students and teachers locked down the classrooms until they were sure they were safe. The instructor who planned the drill – Police Officer Andy McIlveen – was acked not to return to the school district. Said Assistant Principal Dave Constance, “This is not an appropriate way to teach school safety.”


Subject: Humanities

Winner: Ronald Cummings, of Santa Ana, California

Approach: For some reason, Cummings drove a group of students – a 14-year-old boy and two 18-year-olds – to a gange fight and then gave them a cigarette lighter that looked exactly like a pistol.

Reacion: Immediately put on leave from the school, he was  charged by police with contributing to the delinquency of minors, making terrorist threats, and using a fake firearm in a threatening manner. He faces eight years in prison.


Subject: History

Winner: School officials in West Palm Beach, Florida

Approach: To make sure students would fulfill state requirements in history, the officials developed a 100-question test – and then required that students answer only 23 of them correctly to pass.

Reaction: Not much. Some teachers complained, but the school board defended the low gread scale…and the test went on anyway. Bottom line: The students can get three-quarters of the answers wrong and still pass.


Subject: Ethics

Winner: Third-grade teacher Betty Bettis and gym teacher Thomas L. Sims, of Kansas City, Missouri

Approach: When a lunch money collection in Bettis’s class came up $5 short, the teacher strip searched the students. She took the girls into a restroom, had them strip to their underwear, and then had them check each others’ panties. Sims took the boys into the gym and had them strip and shake their underwear.

Reaction: OUtraged parents made the story international news. One student even went on a talk show to describe the incident. By the way, they found the missing money in a rest room…but not as a result of the strip search.