As a former instructor of students in the criminal justice system, I found this report by Ms. Halloran disturbing and shocking that nothing was done before a death occurred. I honestly feel that if there was some type of intervention was taken by the college, prevention of a suicide was possible. Certainly, as a former chief of the basic training section at a Nationally Accredited Corrections Academy, I saw deep flaws in the entire performance of this teacher.
First and foremost, much sympathy to the family of this beautiful child. Wendy Halloran humanized this story to the point that the viewer can feel the pain of this gross mistreatment by an instructor who is best identified as an ‘abuser’ rather than a teacher.
The details of her death comes to a sad conclusion that she was driven by various factors to her desperate state of mind when she decided to commit suicide. Factors that are clearly describing a pattern of behaviors that should have been observed and managed by her supervisors and the college, who are ultimately, responsible for her actions and ‘enabling’ her to act out in ways, that destroys, damages or leads to a serious mental status that is similar to humiliating someone to death. Being “direct” does not include being abusive. In fact, had the college cared enough about their own credibility, integrity and abilities to teach young adults the art of equinox training, they would have seen an incompatibility in this instructor from the beginning rather than “enabling” her to act like this.
It is hard for the college to admit they abused this student. Just like it was hard for the student to admit to anyone she was shamed into a despicable state of despair and hopeless mindset by a form of mental torture that resembles a ‘boot camp’ mentality but in this case, the teacher forgets or neglects to build these kids back up after tearing them down. I heard nothing that was labeled or tagged positive reinforcements for their accomplishments.
We have to ask – why did the college give this instructor so much control and why didn’t they ‘rein her in’ when she demonstrated harsh and ‘direct’ dialogues with people vulnerable to such bullying and attending school to seek life quality improvements rather than punishments. They had the power over the teacher but did nothing to stop her. So you have to ask – who was in control? Because they let her get away with her sadistic mannerisms, she created pawns in her hand rather than students wanting to learn and not be afraid of failure or admonishment for falling short of the teacher’s expectations.
This instructor was a manipulator. She manipulated these kids for her own ego and narcissistic needs. She might have appeared normal but she needs help badly. Her obsessive control shows in her mannerism of teaching class. Perhaps she sees her students as she sees these horses, mindless and in need of strict control.
I think she scared the hell out of everybody, perhaps even her own supervisors. Her insecurity lashed out on her students who were very young, impressionable and eager to please adults especially their teachers. They followed her will and she took advantage of that relationship.
To shame someone that they aren’t good enough hurts deeply and creates an abyss of hope and promise that success is even possible. It cuts so deep, they feel through the manipulation, torture and constant abuse, they aren’t worth the time, effort or even the attention to be someone that is able to learn anything, whether it be a horse or another vocation.
This is absolutely an abuse of authority. I can’t even begin to rationalize what would drive a teacher to abuse a student like this except to believe perhaps, at one time in her life, she was abused and now has the authority to ‘get even’ with others.
In some ways, she deserves sympathy for the pathetic person she is or has become. Her future as a teacher in now in deep doubt as the college will have to decide to retain her or fire her. This relationship by the instructor and her students was most unnecessarily rude in nature and unmannerly as an employee or educator. The college was left with no other choice to defend her actions because to fire her, would be an admission of guilt that they failed to act to protect the students and that’s a gross violation of trust and integrity for educators.
Let me list the factors of shaming this student to her death – she was likely a very bright girl and threatened the teacher’s own intelligence or control of their conversations. This caused resentment and more abuse because the student had the power instead of the teacher.
Since this relationship was based on power and authority rather than intellectual or educational grounds, the teacher wanted to take control and she did by being direct and harsh and at times, intimidating and cruel.
Tantrums in the classroom are very disruptive and the student usually gets the blame for any interruptions due to the manipulation factor. I am certain that this teacher never attempted to fix any flaws but rather, focused on flaws and shamed her by bullying her in front of her classmates or when isolated.
She not only shamed her to death, she scared her to death. She knew the student needed her approval to successfully finish the college course and move on. When the teacher took control and exerted her power over her, she threatened the student with failure and that’s a no win position for the student.
This entire episode is about abuse and control. Sad it had to end like this. However, Wendy Halloran did a fantastic job revealing the background factors that gave me insight on this instructor. I might be wrong on some of my comments but overall, this teach was unfit and unqualified to teach our young people in a structured and what was supposed to be an educational environment.