Saturday, October 21, 2017

"We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." Nelson Mandela

Something truly shocking happened in Pittsburgh earlier this week after school at Martin Luther King Learning Center, a K-8 building in the Pittsburgh Public School District.  The story begins with a teacher  taking a cell phone from a 10 year old fourth grade girl during class time.  The district has a strict "no cell phone" policy, so teacher Janice Watkins was doing her job. According to reports, the girl bit the teacher during the process of confiscating  her phone. Consequently, Miss Watkins met with the girl's mother after school regarding the cell phone incident. The mother told the teacher she would "get even" with her for taking her child's phone. (Do you see any red flags?)

After the meeting,  Ms. Watkins was driving to a clinic to have the human bite evaluated and treated. She was not aware that she was being followed in another car by the girl's mother and a man, who allegedly threw a brick through her car window, taking out some of Ms. Watkins' teeth. They dragged her out of the carr to beat, punch, and assault her.  All of this happened in the middle of traffic on Pittsburgh's North Shore, on a very busy street. 


I am stunned. The teacher did nothing wrong, so there was nothing with which to "get even." The girl was violating a school policy, which teachers are expected to enforce.  This mother's behavior is unacceptable for so many reasons!

Think of the terrible lessons the parent of the 10 year old girl is teaching their child;  lessons like "You do not have to follow school rules," and "Intimidation and threatening are appropriate," and "Violence is the answer."  My heart sinks, and and then breaks, to think of the domestic atmosphere in which that child is being reared.  How will she ever learn appropriate methods for dealing with life's problems?  The world is violent enough without seeing one's parent perpetrating violence against a teacher. 

Being a teacher is a difficult job, and the pay is never enough for all the work that goes into the job.  Most teachers have no real "life" during the school year - their entire focus is about working and students and school. Teachers teach because they love children and learning, and they want to make a difference.  I would not blame Muss  Watkins if she did not return to her classroom after this terrible and unthinkable assault.  She was simply doing her job, and she did not deserve the stalking, the brick, and the assault. 

Here are several links to this news story, including the link from WPXI, in which the attacker called the station and said she had no remorse for her actions.  The world is becoming too crazy; teaching used to be a safe job.  Students used to be afraid that if they got in trouble at school, they would be in twice as much trouble when they arrived home.  Not now -  some parents want the teacher to take all the responsibility and they will not assign any blame to their own children.  I think I am glad to be retired.  

The mother of the girl was arrested for stalking and assault and the teacher is recuperating at home at this writing.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

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