Besides family, teachers have the greatest opportunity to make a profound impact in the life of a youth. For the most part, teachers do not take the opportunity lightly and try their best to inspire their students. However, just like in any field, there some rotten apples in the bunch. We’ve compiled a list of teachers who’ve certainly had an impact on their students and their community, but not in the way we’d have wanted. Here are our 10 of the worst teachers of all time.
10. Don’t Drink and Teach
“Do as I say, not as I do” must have been the motto of Toro Canyon Middle School’s Tonya Neff. The Southern California teacher was arrested in 2010 for teaching while intoxicated. School administrators reported Neff after students noted her erratic behavior. After her booking, the sheriff released a statement saying that Neff had mixed prescription drugs with alcohol and that she was being held for felony child endangerment.
On the bright side, the middle school teacher must have left an unwavering impact on student’s on the ramifications for alcohol consumption. Hopefully, the trials of their former teacher kept a few of them from experimenting before they turned 21.
9. Two Teachers, One Student
A smaller student-teacher ratio is certainly a good thing in most cases: more individual attention, a specialized learning environment, and less stress on the teachers are some of the benefits. In New Orleans, a student would receive none of those benefits, and instead would be the victim of a sexual crime. In 2015, Shelley Dufresne and Rachel Respess, former teachers at Destrehan High School, were arrested for having sex with a 16-year-old student. According to reports, Dufresne had an ongoing affair with the student.
Somehow when Respess learned of the behavior, instead of reporting it, she decided to join in. Allegations hold that Respess offered her apartment for the encounter where a threesome took place. After more than 40 sexual encounters between student and teacher, the crimes were finally brought to light. Dufresne, a wife and mother of three, would admit to having sex with the student, eventually accepting a plea deal for the charge of ‘obscenity.”
8. Wrong Type of Cheerleading
Shelley Jo Duncan, an Oklahoma cheerleading coach, was arrested last year for inappropriate contact with a child. The 48-year-old woman was booked into the Johnson County jail on charges of lewd or indecent proposals with a child under the age of 16. To make matters worse, Duncan herself was a mother and wife of the school’s superintendent. Released documents give insight into the perverse relationship: “U have no idea what u mean to me,” Duncan wrote the student… “I’m here for the rest of ur life…I can’t imagine my life [without] u in it.” Other messages released revealed Duncan’s plans for future sexual encounters, including her wish to give him “oral sex with a cough drop in her mouth.” Thankfully, the young boy’s mother was able to get wind of the relationship and reported Duncan to the police.
Despite the seriousness of the accusations against her, Duncan somehow managed to get designated “paid leave.” One can’t help but wonder if her husband being the superintendent had anything do with that.
7. Cursing at Students Isn’t Motivational
(NOTE: The above video is NSFW and contains strong, offensive language)
The stress and anxiety that comes with teaching is hard to fully understand unless one spends a day in the classroom. And although students may do things that get on a teacher’s last nerve, a teacher must always maintain the higher ground. An unidentified Baltimore city teacher lost hers when she started yelling expletives at her students. Unbeknownst to her, an iPhone camera rolled as she hauled a student out of her classroom by force.
The teacher then turned her attention to the other students yelling that they are: ““punk a** n****” who (are) going to get shot.” The video went viral shortly after it was posted, generating more than one million views. After viewing the video, Baltimore city schools CEO Sonja Santelises said she was “appalled” by the video and subsequently dismissed the teacher in question.
6. Gym Class Went a Little Too Far
Arguably the most scandalous case on our list goes to Pamela Rogers Turner, a former beauty queen and elementary teacher who admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old boy. Like Shelley Jo Duncan, Turner was not a typical “classroom” teacher, as she taught gym at Centertown Elementary in Tennessee. Police reports reveal that it was in gym class where the affair began with the student. A married woman, Turner, began messaging the young boy, saying “I think you’re cute” to which he responded “ I think you’re hot.”
In 2005, Turner would invite the young boy back to her home, beginning an ongoing affair which even had the gym teacher venturing to his home for sex. The relationship got serious enough that the boy dumped his girlfriend to spend more time with Turner. Eventually rumors of an affair spread throughout the community, culminating with an anonymous tip sent to the police. In February 2005, Turner was arrested and charged with statutory rape and sexual battery charges.
Somehow after taking a plea, she was only made to serve six months of an eight-year prison sentence. The punishment did not have its intended effect. After only one month of freedom, Turner faced new charges for sexting the same boy, and later admitted to sending him sexually explicit videos and nude selfies. Turner was sent back to prison and served six years.
5. Parent’s Blessing
Our list continues with an even more bizarre case of sexual misconduct. A Texas teacher was sentenced to 10 years in prison after admitting to having sex with her 13-year-old student – and eventually, Alexandria Vera was impregnated by the boy. Vera would reveal that she initially rejected her student’s advances before succumbing to temptation. According to court documents, the “couple” had sex every day for nine months, with Vera even allowing her student’s family to move into her house.
The ruse also included the boy’s family, who approved of the relationship with the boy’s father going along with the deception by pretending to be Vera’s boyfriend. One of the most disturbing parts of the case involves Vera’s 6-year-old daughter. The young girl, seemingly aware of arrangement, began to call her mother’s 13-year-old lover “Dad.”
Called to defend Vera, a mental health counselor stressed Vera’s turbulent childhood, which was greatly affected by domestic abuse. The mental health counselor testified that she thought Vera was someone who simply needed love. The judge was unconvinced, and Vera was sentenced to serve at least five of the 10 year term before becoming eligible for parole.
4. Calling in a Bomb Threat
It’s hard to not feel a little bit of sympathy for graduate student Nancy Bruni. Tasked with teaching her first class at the University of Pittsburgh, Bruni made two bomb threats so the classes would be canceled. Bruni was so unnerved about teaching the prospective classes that she not only called in a threat but left a note about a bomb in a campus restroom.
According to the campus newspaper, the University of Pittsburgh police received a call from a woman who said, “This is kind of strange, but I received a message on my phone that two explosions were going to go off tonight at Posvar, one at 6:30 and again at 7:30.” Not very well versed in the art of deception, Bruni’s phone call was easily traced and she was later interrogated by the police. She would the confess to making both threats, stating that she suffers from anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As a result of her health insurance coming to an end, she was forced to stop taking her medication.
Bruni cited her anxiety as the motivation for making the bomb threats, being at such unease that she felt compelled to make a second threat after the University did not cancel her class after her first attempt. Students eventually found out about the bomb threat and became angry themselves that class was not canceled under those circumstances, ironically giving Bruni the excuse she needed to cancel the class.
The bomb threat did eventually elicit a response from the school. Pitt spokesman John Fedele said police searched the building with a bomb-sniffing dog and explosives detectors, but didn’t alert students because the threats were deemed “lower level.” Somehow, Bruni wasn’t arrested. Seemingly the police must have felt sympathy, as we did, for her condition.
3. Know the Law
Leah Shipman, a former Brunswick county teacher charged with statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with a student, had the case dropped because of some nifty legal work. North Carolina law states that a husband does not have to testify against his wife, and thus the state had no choice but to dissolve the case.
The 42-year-old Shipman was a married woman of nearly two decades before she divorced her husband and married her 17-year-old student Johnnie Ray Ison. Surprisingly, Ison’s mother agreed to signed the consent papers allowing the two to get married. And as we said in the previous paragraph, now that Shipman and Ison were married, the student/husband could not be compelled to testify against the 42-year-old teacher.
The affair began when Ison was just 15-years-old.
2. Happily Ever After
Our most stunning case actually has, what one could call, a happy ending. Mary Kay Letourneau, a sixth grade teacher in Washington, noticed that one of her students, Vili Fualaau, was a gifted artist and began helping him develop his drawing skills. According to Letourneau, on one late night, the relationship turned physical as an innocent kiss turned into much more. Their first sexual encounter took place in 1996, when Letourneau, a married mother of four, was 34, while Fualaau was just 13.
The police were made aware of the sexual abuse and arrested Letourneau, with her pleading guilty of second degree child rape. At the time of her sentencing, she was pregnant with Fualaau’s child and would later give birth to their first daughter while she was out on bail. Letourneau was given a lenient sentence of just six months, with the condition that she was to avoid any further contact with Fualaau. We can all guess what happened next.
Weeks later, Letourneau and Fualaau were found having sex in her car and she later became pregnant with their second child. She was subsequently sentenced to an additional seven and a half years, and gave birth to another daughter. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Fualauu remarked how difficult being a father at an early age was:
“It was a huge change in my life, for sure. I don’t feel like I had the right support or the right help behind me. From my family, from anyone in general. I mean, my friends couldn’t help me because they had no idea what, what it was like to be a parent, I mean, because we were 14, 15.”
Somehow, the time apart and the age difference did not stop former teacher and student, because when Letourneau was finally released from prison, they got married. The couple have defied all odds and have remained married for more than a decade.
1. There Will be Blood
We saved the most tragic case on our list, which involved the death of 18-year-old high school senior Sean Powell at the hands of his teacher’s husband, for last. In an amazing twist, the cuckolded Eric McLean was able to convince a jury that the death of Powell was an accident brought on after he caught his wife with the young man in his home. According to McLean, he tried calling 9-1-1 to get Powell to leave his property but then resorted to grabbing a rifle to scare him. Eventually, “he pointed it at Powell, (but) Powell mocked him and grabbed the rifle by the barrel. When Powell pulled on the weapon, it went off.”
Despite being found not guilty for the first degree murder charges, McLean was found guilty of reckless homicide. He testified that he hoped that he would be able to be reunited with his children, who his wife whisked away after Powell’s death.
On the other hand, Erin McLean believed that her husband’s act was premeditated murder. She alleges that her husband knew about her affair with Powell and that the two had a “twisted” relationship, with Powell teasing and emasculating McLean. We will never know the truth as to what happened in this love triangle, but it does have the makings of a Hollywood movie.