Punishing Dacula teacher encourages more bad behavior
I am a graduate of Dacula High School and a former chemistry and physics student of Larry Neace. Last Friday during a routine call to check on the goings on in my hometown, I was shocked to hear about the incident involving Mr. Neace. The description of what occurred was so surprising to me that at first I thought the person telling it was joking. As I listened and realized it was, unfortunately, no joke, I became more horrified and angry by the minute.
From what I can ascertain, Mr. Neace's policy of giving a zero for each day that a student falls asleep in class has been called into question because a student in his senior year was going to fail the class because of these zeroes, despite having done some amount of work (an unknown variable to me) for the class.
If memory serves and if the policy has not changed since my years at Dacula, these zeroes are factored in as part of a student's participation grade. This policy, along with other policies and rules of Mr. Neace's classroom, are made clear at the beginning of the year and are captured in the syllabus. Every student is made aware of the rules from day one.
If a student chooses to sleep during class, then he or she chooses to receive a zero for that day. This is no different than when a student chooses not to do homework and earns (not merely receives) a zero for that assignment. We all know that there is much more to learn in school than "reading, writing and arithmetic."
We must also teach our children how to successfully function in society. This means teaching them responsibility and teaching them that for every choice, there exists a consequence. In the paraphrased words of Sir Issac Newton, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." It's not just a law of physics, but also of life.
Next to my parents, I owe my career to Mr. Neace. He was the single most influential teacher I encountered through 21 years of formal education. He encouraged me and made me love chemistry and physics (when I had planned to major in journalism, I might add). His encouragement did not end when I graduated. We kept in touch throughout college and graduate school. I can state with confidence that I would not be where I am today without Mr. Neace. He also had significant impact on one of my younger sisters, who ultimately chose Mr. Neace as her STAR teacher. After more than 23 years with the Gwinnett County School System, I am sure there are innumerable stories just like mine.
Any request to change the policy for any single student must be denied. Mr. Neace should be commended for refusing to back down despite pressure to do so. Our society is full of people who think the rules do not apply to them.
I contend that if Mr. Neace is forced to change his policy it will only serve to reinforce that attitude in our young adults. We must continue to allow schools to be a place where lessons of life are taught alongside lessons of math, science and language.
- Tracey Cash Ward
Dacula High School
assistant senior analytical chemist,
Eli Lilly and Co.