Jessica Gentry says she loves children, but had to leave the profession for the sake of her mental and physical health
Jessica Gentry has been a teacher for the last 12 years, according to Good Morning America. Now she says she’s done.
In a viral Facebook post, Gentry detailed why her love for children was not enough to stay in the profession and called for parents and schools to do better when it comes to teaching and raising kids.
“The filter comes off now,” Gentry — who taught kindergarten at Stone Spring Elementary School in Harrisonburg, Virginia — began the post on June 13. “Let me tell you why those who ooze passion for teaching are leaving the occupation like their hair is on fire.”
She went on to give a list of reasons why she decided to quit teaching: inattentive parents, the reliance on technology rather than relationships, pulling teachers from their classrooms for “utterly worthless” training and its negative impact on teachers’ health.
“My mental and physical health was in jeopardy every.single.day. Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they’re getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told ‘don’t lose sleep over them,’ ” Gentry wrote.
“Watching them come in… dirty clothes… chaos at home… and knowing they need more than you can give them in a classroom of 21 … it breaks you,” she wrote. “We become emotional eaters. We become couch potatoes to zone out. We become so short fused that our families suffer.”
Gentry said she went to human resources on two occasions, GMA reported.
“There were a few major events that spurred my departure,” she told the outlet. “I hold teaching in such high regard that watching my most recent administration laugh about students with disabilities, state that we ‘shouldn’t lose sleep over’ struggling students, say that she [a school administrator] ‘washed her hands of this year’ in April was disheartening to say the least.”
Neither Stone Spring Elementary School nor Harrisonburg City Public Schools immediately responded to a request for comment from PEOPLE. However, superintendent Michael Richards told GMA he was not previously aware of Gentry’s accusation about students with disabilities.
“If Ms. Gentry’s accusation about staff allegedly making fun of special needs students is true, this would be an incident that would be investigated and taken very seriously,” Richards said. “Harrisonburg City Public Schools staff are dedicated, hard-working professionals who care for all children daily.”
Facebook users flocked to the post, leaving several hundred comments and sharing the message more than 170,000 times. Many agreed with Gentry, writing, “Spot on. Nailed it,” and “So tragic but so true.” However, others reminded Gentry that some educators choose to simply cope with the unpleasant conditions.
“There are teachers who do not complain, who are happy with their pay and those that retire are living very well,” one commenter wrote. “Yes, they are real and I know them. But as with any profession…LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT….because what you don’t like there is someone behind you that will.”
Gentry told GMA that the response to her post has been “overwhelmingly positive,” adding that she’s connected with educators who feel the “exact way but have felt alone and guilty for thinking so.” She said she hopes the viral post could spark change.
“I’d love nothing more than to do work with those willing to listen to change the current path our public education system is headed down,” she told the site. “I promised my coworkers when I left that I’d be the voice for them since so many fear being reprimanded for speaking up.”