MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CBS Local) — The principal of an elementary school in Tennessee is under fire after hosting a “mock funeral,” complete with a baby doll in what appears to be a casket, to motivate teachers.
Tina Smith, the principal of Getwell Elementary School in Memphis, reportedly wanted to motivate teachers to work harder after Public School Review showed the school scored in the bottom 50 percent for math and reading in the state in 2015.
Smith “planned a variety of activities during in-service last week aimed to renew the focus and commitment of staff members in the new year,” a representative of Shelby County Schools told Yahoo Lifestyle. “One activity involved a mock funeral, which was designed as a symbolic act to eliminate negativity and excuses associated with with previous years of poor academic performance.”
Friday’s mock funeral featured what appeared to be a casket with a baby doll inside surrounded by flowers and a pamphlet that read, “In loving memory of Madam 2 to 3 years behind.”
Keith Williams, the interim director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, called the activity offensive.
“She has insulted those people. That is an insult — to invite me back to school the first day for a funeral,” Williams told WHBQ. “Some of the teachers who had recently had challenges with childbirth were overwhelmed and just left the room. Some of them are off today because of it.”
Smith later acknowledged the activity could be seen as insensitive and apologized.
“If you think, by any stretch of the imagination, that burying a child in the presence of mostly women is symbolic of improving instruction,” he told Fox 13, “something is wrong with you.”