Friday, May 12, 2006

The Teacher, The Bikini, And The World Wide Web

Photographs of a lingerie-clad first-year Florida high school teacher are causing quite a stir: (Please see commentary, update, and related links at bottom of this entry. Visit the latest edition of The Carnival of Education, hosted by us on May 17th, right here.)
Provocative pictures of West Boca High teacher Erica Chevillar have been posted on the Web all year with no complaints, but now students have been trading site links and at least one parent has complained.

Chevillar, a first-year social studies teacher, told officials she had forgotten about the pictures taken while in college.

Earlier this week, a parent complained about the pictures of Chevillar posted on the U.S.A. National Bikini Team Web site and some students have begun sending links to the site, although the site is blocked by district computers.

Although Chevillar, 25, won't be disciplined for her actions, the complaint has publicized the site, which shows Chevillar in more than two dozen poses, including one in a G-string. The Web site for the Boca Raton-based company features dozens of models from throughout the country posing in string bikinis and lingerie. The company publishes a calendar, produces DVDs and makes its models available for parties.

The pictures may be embarrassing for the school and district, but they aren't against policy, spokesman Nat Harrington said.

Harrington said the West Boca High principal has spoken to Chevillar about the pictures. Chevillar has said she plans to leave teaching and become a real estate agent — a decision she made earlier.

Harrington said he is not aware of similar incidents, but in the past teachers and other public employees have been suspended and fired for risqué appearances and pictures. In 2002, a Broward County teacher was recommended for firing and then resigned in 2002 after officials there learned he appeared in a pornographic video.

In April, Department of Children and Families social worker Alison Cushman was fired from her job after officials learned she got naked in an appearance on Howard Stern's radio show. Photos of her were posted on the show's Web site. It was the second time she took off her clothes on the show. After her first appearance, she was warned another appearance could get her fired.

Her boyfriend, Boynton Beach Detective Troy Raines was reprimanded by the department for talking about his sex life on the show and giving Stern a replica badge.

Although there are many policies about the responsibilities of teachers, they focus on instruction. Their personal lives is a gray area they must navigate on their own.

Harrington said teachers should be aware their position puts them under a microscope.

West Boca parent Rita Solnet-Motta who heard about the site said she felt sorry for Chevillar because of the publicity surrounding the pictures. "We all do stupid things in college," she said. "Maybe it's a good lesson for the kids to learn when you do stupid things when you're young it can come back to haunt them."
This whole episode makes me wonder.

At what point should a teacher's non-criminal college-age peccadilloes become irrelevant to the job? The pictures are racy, but they're not indecent.

Even though Chevillar stated that she had made her decision to leave teaching before the controversy broke, it makes me wonder it that's the real reason or simply the one given for public consumption...

At the very least, what has happened to Chevillar should serve as an object lesson for those who are considering a career in public education. Even though teaching is a job, it is not like most other jobs in that when the worker leaves the job site, whatever he or she does in his or her off-time is nobody's business but their own.

Like it or not, teachers (and all who work in the schools) are in the public eye. And, even though it may sound old-fashioned, many communities still expect a higher standard of public behavior from their teachers than just about anyone else in the community.

And, like it or not, when the community sees one of its teachers doing anything of which it even mildly disapproves of, tongues will wag.

Folks want their children's teachers to be positive role models.

Those college students who aspire to careers in public education would do very well to consider that fact before doing anything that may come back to haunt them after they begin serving in the classroom.

If nothing else, they should, at the very least, reconsider participating any activity that may involve the use of intimate apparel and cameras.

Like diamonds, the World Wide Web is forever.

Related: Wizbang has
much more, including the actual pictures themselves and has some ideas about how teacher recruitment may be impacted and how Chevillar just might be that Voice everyone in the EduSphere has been waiting for. Intercepts has a photographic comparison with 2004's Hottest Teacher and a Bonus Shot that we really like. Other MSM coverage here. (Where Chevillar defends her photos and says she's leaving because her $33,000 salary is too low.)

Update:(05/13/06) Chevillar is employed at West Boca Raton High School, (website here) which is located in South Florida's tony Palm Beach County.
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