Substitute Teacher Melt-Down

I'm freaking out about the latest news story my bloggy bud, The Constant Complainer, alerted me to yesterday. I almost couldn't believe it when I read it!

Tampa Bay Online and the Miami Herald report that substitute teacher, William Avery, was having difficulty getting the interactive white board to work properly in his Booker Elementary classroom in Sarasota.

Reportedly, several 2nd grade students got up to assist him with the device. He then threw the remote control, cursed, and then pushed a little girl and punched two young boys.

One of the children vomited after being punched in the stomach and another student went to the hospital the next day complaining of chest pain after being punched in the chest.

When the children tried to leave the classroom to get help, he would not allow them to leave. The school never learned of the incident until the following day. He has since been arrested on child abuse charges.

William Amory has worked as a substitute teacher in Sarasota for 17 years. In that time Amory has had 2 prior restrictions. A memo from the Booker High School principal stated "He repeatedly swore at the students, including telling (a student) to 'take your f---ing book out.' I do not want him to ever sub here again," (source)

Amory insists the class was "unruly" and he was only trying to "maintain order with an open hand."

It's Feedback Friday and I want to hear you thoughts:

Do you think this substitute should have been placed with elementary aged students after being banned from the high school?

Do you believe this was a case of the classroom getting out of hand?

Any other thoughts about this story?


  1. Absolutely not!!! If I were the parent...or in my case the GRAND-parent...of those little kids who were only trying to help and got physically harmed...I would be furious!!!

  2. Oh wow. Do they really have nobody else to do the job? I don´t know how it´s in the States, but qualified teachers, fresh from university and unemployed, seem to grow on the trees over here. Sounds like almost anybody would have been better than this guy. I´m so sorry for the poor kids.

  3. No! Sounds like someone in that school system dropped the ball.

  4. Stupid question, of course not. But to be honest, this post makes me think "should you be posting this, with his full name and a picture of him?". Looks a bit like a public prosecution here. But then again I am not US, and here (Netherlands) people who are accused of something do not get their full names and pictures plastered all over the news. Must be a cultural thing.

  5. Wow...how does this happen? I am a sub and I get called because of the work I do. You have to have a relationship with the other staff members and they will let administration know if you stink at the job. You would be amazed at how many subs think they have to be mean and disrespectful to the kids. It's a tough gig but you can make such an impact if you approach it right. I started subbing because my boys kept saying they had a sub and they were mean. So for the last 8 yrs I have worked hard to show you do not have to be mean to be a sub. I just hate that this man hurt these children ...unruly or not!!!

  6. Marianne, don't worry about it. There is no law in the US that prohibits Jen from posting his picture and full name. With all of the censorship that does occur around here, the good news with the Internet is that as long as you're citing a source and/or your personal opinion, anything is fair game.

    Whether you have children or not, this is a very scary story for a lot of reasons. First, of course, because a moron like this is a substitute teacher. Second, because clearly there was a schooling body that approved his to be a substitute teacher. Third, because clearly his record wasn't clean and he was allowed to continue.

    Now, I don't believe for a second that subs are hard to find. Look how many college graduates have education degrees and they can't find work. They're subbing. Point being - if a sub screws up and swears at students, he should be done - period. If you're curious, I went and looked it up - Jen mentioned that he had two violations - the other one was for reading the bible in class instead of teaching. A big no-no in the public school setting. But yet again...he was allowed to continue.

    To punch a student so hard in the stomach that he vomits over a white board is unconscionable. They need to get the felonies to stick in this case, so this guy will never be able to teach again!

  7. This is so scary to me. We should feel our kids are safe at school.


  8. I work in a high school. Under NO circumstances should he be allowed in any school setting ever again - & why wasn't the rest of the district enlightened of him when the high school banned him?
    We all have our bad days - teachers & students, but raising our hands & our voices in vulgar language only escalates the issue.
    If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen & call for help. Don't take it out on the kids' - a lot of them deal with too much of that at home & only feel safe at school.
    This story just makes my blood come to a bubble.......

  9. Oh my - if my kid was hit by a teacher it would be difficult to restrain me from going berserk on the guy. This is appalling. When we are dealing with adults we are trusting with the care of our children, we have to be extra careful, and someone didn't do their diligence to ensure this sub was appropriate. I am appalled. SO appalled.

  10. Well if I was one of the parents I'm pretty sure I would be ruling him with an open hand.

    And not in the kind of nasty way that sounded.

    I think that it is crazy that he was allowed to work with more students after being banned from one school. The only thing I can think is that the high school didn't report it to who ever hires the subs and just stated they didn't want him back without giving a full reason.

  11. If he was banned from H.S then there's no way he should be teaching elementary. I don't think anything the kids do in the classroom would warrants cursing and actual physical violence.

  12. I can't believe this story. If the students were getting out of hand there are other ways to handle it. Not by hitting kids. The schools need to be a little bit more strict !

  13. I have no words. Seriously.

    What. The. Eff?

  14. NO NO NO NO! I think the district should also be held accountable! WOW. No words can describe the reaction I have to this. I am a teacher, and if this happened, under this same circumstances, I would be contacting the people responsible for allowing him to sub in the first place.

  15. crazy awful.

    just a side note about subs: I teach (preschool now, but for years it was elementary) I think it depends on you area if there are plenty of subs. Our state has guidelines that say you have to have a certain number of college credits to sub and other qualifications, however each school district can override that with a 'state of emergency'. It was always a SOE when I was there. We couldn't find anyone to sub. The pay was like $40-50 a day and lets face it; teaching is hard, subbing is sometimes harder! The teacher may or may not have left plans/enough plans. sweet angels can be unruly. The teachers had a list of good subs that we liked and then 'emergency subs'. Sometimes we had to go to the bottom of the list to find someone available. I often skipped conferences, etc if I couldn't get a good sub. When I was pg though and very sick, I didn't have that option. My room and kids were sometimes a mess when I returned.
    obviously, this man shouldn't have been allowed to be there. Just saying it's hard to get good people.

  16. Disgusting. Kids can be harsh on subs but that is no excuse for any sort of lashing out on them. It will just reinforce their behavior if the teacher can't control themselves in front of the kids.

  17. Jennifer, I'm new to blogging, and just started about three weeks ago. I found your site today, and I am so glad. Your work is great, and when I can get a few minutes away from the kids I want to look at all your talent..

    But to comment on this story, the school system should have done a better background check. My son will start kindergarten this coming year, and we've been looking at schools. It's daunting, and after reading this, it all makes me nervous. What a terrible thing to happen to these young children.

    Thanks, Leigh

  18. My main thought is this- STOP using these awful stories as feedback Fridays. The answer to this is obvious. He is a BAD TEACHER!! He clearly is not happy himself in his job and he made a horrible choice that he should have consequences for.

    But you seem to be very biased against teachers and schools. You seem to want to point fingers at examples of poor teachers and school policies and then ask the obvious question of "Do you think this is ok?" Just STOP.

  19. Absolutely out of control, he should have never been left in an elementary school. I sub in an elementary school and kids have never been so unruly that you want to punch them. I think he has some problems in his own "mind".

  20. No, he should not have worked at the elementary school.
    They need to deputize him and put him in charge of the prison system.

  21. I think it's mostly a case of public schools being desperate. I can't even get into my opinion on our education system in too much detail, because I'll be here all day if I do. But basically, I think this is an example of the fact that our system is very broken. It's gotten so bad that the only people we can find who are willing to do these jobs are maniacs, burnt-out teachers who have come to resent their students, and a few wonderful people whose hearts are still in it. We are rapidly sinking behind other countries when it comes to the quality of education our children receive, and I worry for the future of our country and the generations to come.

  22. Dear Anonymous,
    If you want to taken seriously..put your name to your opinion.

    Anonymous.....uh, I mean Janet xox

  23. please insert a 'be' after 'to'...


    See how easy it is to sign your name to a comment... did it twice!

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