About Jake Miller

Mr. Jake Miller is the 2016 National History Day Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, a 2017 NEA Global Fellow to China, and a former candidate for county-wide office. Miller has written more than 500 articles, most of which have appeared on The Educator's Room. He's the opening contributor to TER's book When the Fire Is Gone. Learn more about Jake at www.MrJakeMiller.com

Like many students at the end of the school term, Lizeth Villanueva brought home a superlative from one of her teachers. However, when her mom further examined the award, CNN reports, she saw that it said “MOST LIKELY TO BECOME A TERRORIST.”

Seriously.

Villanueva, a 13-year-old 7th-grade student at Lance Cpl. Anthony Aguirre Junior High School in Houston must have been shocked. But, what’s more shocking is that she wasn’t the lone recipient of this ridiculousness. Other awards were given out almost as absurd such as, like “Most Likely to Blend in with White People,” while others exhibit nothing short of missing mental acuity, like “Most Likely to Be Homeless in Guatemala.”

While CNN couldn’t locate the name of the teacher, I did a bit of investigative researching after seeing the teacher’s name signed at the bottom of the awards (let’s just call it advanced Google and Twitter searching; full-time journalists, take note). In doing so, I believe the failed comedian’s name is Stacy N. Lockett. This is corroborated by the fact that her teacher website is completely unavailable, while all attempts to locate her on the district website were futile.

Lockett is the Advanced AVID teacher at her school, whose insignia is also located on the photos of the awards. According to the company’s website, AVID is a program that sets a goal to “use best practices” to make “all the students in the elective… college-ready.”

I’m still trying to figure out how these insensitive awards help accomplish a mission that boasts of making sure students are college-ready.

For you free speech advocates (i.e. the kill-the-political-correctness and the toughen-up-the-snowflakes) brigade before you pepper this article with your comments, I invite you to ask yourself – if your child came home with this award, what would your reaction be?

Watch Villanueva’s response and ask yourself if you’d want your child to handle this doltishness any differently.


In an interview with local news station KPRC,Villanueva believed being deemed “a terrorist is a really big thing.” She connected her comments to current events, remembering what happened “2 or 3 days ago with the Ariana Grande concert,” where 22 people were killed by a terrorist in Manchester, England – many her age – “and that’s not something to joke around with.”

Local news station KTLA best summarized the school’s official statement: “Aguirre Administration would like to, first of all, apologize for the insensitive and offensive fake mock award that were given to students… As principal, I want to assure all students, parents and community members that these ward statement and ideals are NOT representative of the Aguirre Vision, Mission, and educational goals for its students.” Additionally, the Channelview Independent School District spokesperson said, “the teacher involved in this matter have been disciplined according to district policy. and the incident is still under investigation.”

Almost certainly we believe she will lose her job. Click To Tweet

The saddest part of all this is Lockett apparently has been student-centered in the past. That was enough to earn her, according to the district’s website, “the first Teacher of the Year Award” at the end of Aguirre Junior High’s first school term, some 10 years ago.

On the other hand, Lockett, who herself is African-American, apparently proctored a “Black Quiz” to students “to prove their blackness.”

Seriously.

We, educators, should take note: act like everything you do in class will be on the front page of the newspaper – because one day it might.

We educators should take note: act like everything you do in class will be on the front page of the newspaper - because one day it might. Click To Tweet

We also need to reclaim our profession from those sullying the “teacher” name by antics that are poorly thought out and/or executed. As CEO Sandy Husk proclaimed on AVID’s Twitter handle:

Nor should we permit these actions to affect the reputation and integrity of the millions of amazing educators across the United States of America. Sure, like any profession, there are bad – and even rotten – apples in our midst. But for every senseless use of sarcastic awards, there are thousands of meaningful ones that teachers bestow upon their students. For every baseless behavior, thousands of teachers build up students.

According to their official website, Aguierre Junior High’s Creed is “Do The Right Thing, In the Right Way, For the Right Reason.”

I’m sure there are dozens of educators there who are doing nothing short of that. Let’s support them and all students by fulfilling that mission in our own classrooms, now more than ever.

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