Tomas Valero had been unsettled for a while now. Every day once school ended, he would see his daughter crying, and he knew without a doubt that something was wrong.
There had to be a reason behind her tears, and he was determined to find out what it was. He couldn’t stand seeing her tears any longer and had to piece a plan together to get the answers he was looking for.
He knew that starting school was daunting for a youngster and that they needed all the support they could get from their parents. For them, it was a significant adjustment during that time of their lives.
It was a scary experience for the young ones when they met their teachers for the first time, no matter how kind they were. The new faces, environments, and routines became overwhelming.
Parents try their best to make transitions like these as easy as possible for their young ones, but the situation becomes much more complicated if the teacher isn’t as kind as they would have hoped.
It wasn’t easy to see that his daughter was struggling to adjust to her school. Tomas knew one of the most important roles of being a father was ensuring his little girl was happy. So why was she not now?
It makes parents unhappy to see their children experiencing any pain, and it hurts so much more because they just want the best for their children. Tomas was no exception.
He grew more worried and anxious as the days went by. His daughter had started behaving differently, and he couldn’t deny it anymore. There was something wrong.
It hadn’t taken long for Tomas to notice his daughter’s new and strange behavior. She had just started at her new school, and where he thought she would have been happy, she had grown more emotional.
Tomas initially brushed it off as nerves. He told himself it was because she was overwhelmed with meeting new people and trying to do her best at school, but that changed when her mood didn’t seem to improve. There must have been a reason for it all, but he needed to find out what it was.
Tomas watched his daughter cry more often than he would have liked and pleaded with him not to go to school. Pretty soon, it didn’t surprise him as much as it did at first.
He would wake up every morning expecting his daughter’s tears. That didn’t mean he wasn’t a worried father. It broke his heart to see her this way, and when it got worse, he decided he had to get to the bottom of this.
Weeks had gone by without any change. Months later, he still didn’t see any difference, and he wondered where all of this daughter’s happiness had disappeared to.
What became even more worrying was her fear of going to school. He would battle with her every morning and couldn’t wrap his mind around how scared she was. It eventually reached the point where she was determined to stay home.
Tomas couldn’t help being worried. He wanted to understand what was wrong and why his daughter acted this way. He tried asking her about it, but she withdrew from him. Her lips were sealed.
How could he continue to watch his daughter be this upset? He realized how sad he had become seeing how unhappy his daughter was. What could he do to help her?
Tomas had never noticed a change in his daughter’s behavior before, and it had only changed after starting her schooling at the Pine Grove Elementary school’s kindergarten.
She had a friendly personality, and he always thought she was a happy and healthy girl. She seemed to have changed from the creative girl who quickly made friends. What had changed?
Tomas thought that she had just started attending a new school and wondered to himself if that had anything to do with her behaviour change.
The more he thought about it, the more he could determine the exact time her emotions started to change. This led Tomas’s thoughts to spiral. Were the kids at school causing it? Did she not like the school? Or was it the new teacher?
Until this all happened, his daughter had been doing well in school. She got good grades, not to mention, the detailed feedback reports about her had all been positive, for the most part.
All the same, only a few months after she had started going to this school, her grades, as well as her demeanor, started to slip.
To top it off, she would get emotional before as well as after school. What was happening? It became too much for Tomas to see his little girl act like this.
He felt so powerless. However, he knew all the same that it was time to get to the bottom of the situation. He had reached a breaking point.
We’re sure any parent would feel worried about the well-being of their child. It was hard seeing his daughter unhappy every day.
He was beginning to get more and more worried about her. The more he tried finding out what was wrong, the more the little girl shrank away. That’s when he realized what could really be going on.
He thought about it a lot. Then, he came to the conclusion that she must be getting bullied by one of her classmates or even by one of her teachers.
They had a stable and happy family life back at home, so he knew that couldn’t be the root of his daughter’s unhappiness. But how could he find out the truth?
It’s very important to be patient. It might even be one of the most important virtues we can all learn, even if it’s difficult to practice.
When it comes to teaching small kids, this becomes that much more valuable. If you ever had to deal with kids, then you know how hard they can be to handle. As an educator, patience is part of the job requirement.
Even more concerning was that his daughter was still so young. She was in her formative years, meaning that she was going through a crucial and important time of her life.
What happens during this time of her life will mold her into the adult she will be in the future. That’s why it was so important that Tomas got to the bottom of it.
Tomas and his wife raised their two daughters and one son with a certain mindset, always making sure to surround them with positivity and encouraging them to be their best selves.
They know how important it is to develop a strong sense of self in kids to prepare them for what the future holds. Tomas wasn’t going to let all his hard work be for nothing.
Keeping Tomas and his wife’s family values in mind, it makes sense that a harsh, mean teacher can seriously harm the children she cares for in the classroom.
Tomas and his wife definitely didn’t want that for their little girl. They started suspecting that they were only just discovering the tip of the iceberg — and uncovering a much bigger and ongoing problem.
Being a resourceful person, Tomas decided he needed to figure out what was going on with his daughter.
He was having a hard time since his daughter was too young and shy to tell him about what was going on with her. It was time for the worried dad to take matters into his own hands.
Being the father that he is, he couldn’t just let his daughter get sadder and sadder with each passing day. He had enough and decided he was going to be the one to do something about it.
The only question was how? He thought about it for a while. Then he finally came up with the perfect plan.
But how could Tomas hear what was happening at school without having to be there at the time?
He knew that if he asked to sit in on the class one day, the teacher would just change her behavior. He needed a more creative solution to make sure he was catching her in the act.
And so, Tomas decided to ‘listen in’ – literally. He planned and built a tiny hearing device. The next morning, he carefully placed it in his daughter’s hair.
This would allow him to listen to exactly what was going on at her school. Hopefully, it would allow him to understand what she was experiencing there.
He knew this was a very drastic way to go about it, but it was important to him. It was important not only to know what was going on but to have proof on hand as well.
He didn’t tell his daughter what he was putting in her hair since he thought it might distract her throughout the day.
Tomas couldn’t wait to see what would happen over the course of the school day. He waited for his daughter at the door and smiled at her as she ran up the driveway.
He was excited to finally get that smile he knows and loves back on her face again. And soon, he’d know exactly what had been troubling her.
When Tomas started listening to the recording when she came home, he was shell-shocked about what he heard.
After listening to the whole thing, he was absolutely livid. He couldn’t believe that this had been going on for so long! But, even though he was furious, he was still glad that he finally knew what was going on.
From the recording, it sounded like the teacher was being very mean to the students in her class.
Tomas continued listening to the recording and realized this must be the reason for his daughter’s problems. He knew there was no time to waste. It was time for him to do something about it. He had to act fast.
He could tell that the teacher was taking advantage of her position in power. It hurt and infuriated Tomas to hear the person they had paid to care for their daughter behaving so callously.
But why? He really couldn’t wrap his head around it at first. Why would she do this to her young students?
As he was listening, he found out that the teacher not only said offensive things to her students,, but her condescending tone was also unnecessarily mean.
The recording allowed Tomas to hear just how much she screamed and yelled at the kids in her care over the most trivial things. What should he do now?
It sickened Tomas to see that a teacher would behave in such a way, so he decided it was time to raise the issue with the public school district.
When things like this happen to your children, it’s usually easier to take it up with someone who has the power to do something about it.
He knew that approaching the teacher in question would get him nowhere. So, Instead of talking to the teacher directly, Tomas decided there was a much better chance of changing things if he turned to the state school board instead.
So that’s what he did. He set up an appointment to tell his and his daughter’s side of the story.
Despite the fact that Tomas had a valid complaint as well as proof to back it up, the school district did nothing to help him in any way.
He couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the response he got from them. To him, it was absolutely sickening that the teacher had been tearing down children on a daily basis.
Can you imagine just how upsetting it must be to hear they weren’t willing to do anything about this problem?
They did say they disciplined the teacher for what she did, but that wasn’t enough for Tomas. And what would happen when his daughter went back to school? He wanted them to do more than that.
Tomas wasn’t happy at all about the response he received from the authorities. The teacher was still teaching the class his daughter was in.
He couldn’t help but feel like it was time for retribution. Soon enough, he made the decision to take it upon himself to do something about Mrs. Duncan, the mean kindergarten teacher.
The school offered to move his daughter to another class, but this wasn’t just about his daughter anymore.
Tomas was worried about the safety and well-being of the other kids in her class as well. As a parent, he knew he had to stand up for his child, but also for all the other children.
He was upset the school didn’t offer much in the sense of support or change. It was a problem that would greatly affect the lives of all these kids.
As long as Mrs. Duncan was teaching, there will be children affected by her anger. Even though he and the other parents protested together, the school didn’t budge. However, he and the parents refused to give up.
Word got out about what was happening in the school. Everyone heard about how Mrs. Duncan treated the little girls in her class.
Tomas didn’t get a lot of support after his initial attempts to get justice, but things started turning around when he made a petition on Change.org. Soon, parents everywhere were outraged.
The petition that Tomas started was titled “Remove Mrs. Duncan from Classrooms.” It explains how he had approached the issue with the principal but they had done nothing about the situation.
“We went to the school the next day to speak to the principal. When we explained what was happening, the principal told us that the teacher was just naturally loud and our daughter just needed to get used to her. “Kids get to an age where they shouldn’t be sheltered” is what they told us.”
“So, we continued to send our daughter to school, hoping she would adjust. She never did. Every day, she would come home crying about school and every morning she would cry about going,” the petition continues.
“…This really hit my wife hard, though. She would cry every night as well. We were too late in the year to do school choice, so we were pretty much stuck at this school.”
The petition explains how Tomas and his wife had made sure that what they were about to do was legal before building the recording device.
They had checked beforehand that everything was above-board before going ahead with the plan. Apparently, the recording device was also Tomas’ wife’s idea.
“My wife got the idea to place a recorder on our daughter to see what was going on. I told her she was insane and paranoid. I was wrong,” Tomas wrote.
“After checking with the sheriff’s office, we found that it was perfectly legal to place a recording device on our daughter in school, as schools and classrooms are seen as public settings. So we did.”
“When our daughter came home, we listened to the recording. What we heard was worse than I thought. I expected to hear some yelling here and there, as this was a room full of 5-year-olds,” Tomas continued.
“Instead, the teacher spent the entire day screaming at, bullying, and belittling the little kids. This is not how kindergartners should be treated. They come to school to learn. For some, this is their first experience with school. They should feel safe to learn. Not scared to ask questions because the teacher will bully them.”
“I captured some of the clips that show the way this teacher treats her students. Some might say that the clips are out of context. I can assure you that they are not,” Tomas’ petition continues.
“We have the full 6-hour school day recorded and it is filled with this screaming and bullying from the teacher. This should not be allowed to happen.”
“I know that this happens all the time in schools and nobody knows about it. I also know that much worse things happen in classrooms,” Tomas continues.
“That being said, we have 100% definitive proof that this is happening. Just because it could be worse, or it happens all the time, does not mean it should be accepted.”
“Anyway, we took the recording to the principal. We informed other parents and they joined us in the meeting. The school refused to listen to the recordings,” Tomas continued angrily.
“The entire meeting was spent with them defending the teacher. They informed us that an investigation was going to be held. The recordings, however, ARE NOT PART OF THE INVESTIGATION.”
“The undeniable proof of what is occurring is not going to be used in the investigation. Instead, they will talk to students and other teachers. That’s it,” Tomas’ wrote.
“I still do not understand how a principal can claim to care about the students and say this behavior is not tolerated, but then completely ignore the one thing that proves it is happening.”
Soon enough, the public arrived to rally around his house. He had over 2,000 signatures for the dismissal of Mrs. Duncan in no time.
It was an even bigger surprise when Tomas found himself in the middle of the media spotlight. Local news channels heard about what was going on at Pine Grave and they admired Tomas for his determination to get justice.
It didn’t take long for the story to pop up all across the country. It meant that people all over the nation would hear about what this teacher did to the kids in her class.
Even if Tomas wasn’t able to have Mrs. Duncan fired, this gave him a small sense of hope that things could still change.
By far, the worst thing about what the teacher did to Tomas’ daughter is that it was going to have a lasting effect on the child — and the other kids in her class.
Things that kids pick up when they’re so young tend to stay with them for a very long time, if not for the rest of their lives.
Had Tomas not noticed his daughter’s strange and uncharacteristic behavior and not worked hard to get to the bottom of things, she might have been traumatized for the rest of her life.
He was glad he had tried to put a stop to it. But it was a serious thing that also affected the other kids there, too.
Anyone who has kids knows how challenging it is to be a good mentor by leading by example. A lot of times, one will first have to scrutinize and criticize their own actions and behaviors.
This isn’t easy to get done, but it’s essential if you want to be a good role model for your kids.
Tomas did learn from this experience that there would be times when things are out of his control no matter how much he tried to be the best parent he could be.
Despite this, he would go through hell and back to ensure the safety of his daughter. He also wanted to keep this from happening to other kids.
It’s the teacher’s responsibility to impart lessons that go further than the set curriculum. They should help improve the imaginations and minds of the kids they teach.
These are things that will leave a massive impact on the lives of the kids as they grow older. A teacher is meant to inspire the kids they teach.
It’s never a good idea for teachers to display abusive behaviors and assert their dominance by instilling fear in their students.
All this does is stifle the progress of the kids and make them more anxious and fearful overall, and make them scared to go to school. Did Tomas’ efforts to fix the problem work? We’ll have to find out.
While Mrs. Duncan continues teaching at the school, we hope she’s at least come to the realization of how harsh she’d been to the kids in her class and how detrimental it’s been for them all.
Tomas is still hoping against hope that the necessary changes will happen since he knows he’s in the right.
It felt to Tomas like the school had been putting the lives of the kids at stake all thanks to the short temper of one teacher.
He learned it would be impossible to make changes if he didn’t take a stand. He desperately hopes his actions change the school system even just a little to make sure other kids wouldn’t be harmed.
This entire ordeal had been hard on him and his daughter, but eventually, Tomas admitted that it made their family that much stronger.
He never would have found out that something like this was happening if he didn’t go the extra mile and take extra steps to get to the bottom of his child’s strange behavior.
By this point, his daughter is attending a class taught by a different teacher. If anything, Tomas learned how important it is to pay attention to his daughter and how she’s acting.
This has made him a better dad thanks to what happened — even though he had to face some hard truths along the way.
No matter what happens, Tomas will always be there for his daughters and son. He and his wife will stand up for their kids whenever and however they need to.
Without great, attentive parents who recognized the problem and did something about it, their little daughter would still be getting bullied relentlessly by her teacher.
Since the very day their little daughter left the hospital, her parents have always had her best interests at heart and have always been concerned about her health and well-being.
Even more importantly, they know their daughter so well that they know when something is wrong. This is what makes them good parents. Tomas and Laici always make sure to care for the needs of all three kids they have.
In order for kids to grow up and mature into productive and balanced members of society, having at least one parent with a good head on their shoulders and a good heart always helps.
A stable home life prepares the child for other things later in life. Aliya is truly lucky to have such a great support system!
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead are entirely coincidental