Teacher Fights Back: ‘I Never Told a Little Girl to Shut Up about Christmas and Her Faith’
The story of 6-year-old Brynn Williams attempt to talk about her family’s Christmas tradition has become the religious right’s latest ‘proof’ that Christians across America are under threat. Yet, according to a statement just released by the teacher and school, the story is nothing more than a lie.
According to a lawyer for the family, Robert Tyler, who is also the general counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, little Brynn gave a presentation in the days before Christmas about the star her family put on the tree.
After explaining that the star represented the birth of the “Savior of the World,” she intended to read a Bible verse. At that point, the teacher intervened and told the little girl to take her seat.
“Brynn’s teacher said, ‘Stop right there! Go take your seat,’” Tyler explained. “Brynn was not allowed to finish her presentation by reciting the Bible verse, John 3:16.”
According to Todd Starnes, the host of Fox News & Commentary, the teacher’s refusal was yet another sign of Christian students being targeted in the classroom.
“What happened inside that classroom is nothing short of un-American,” Starnes wrote.” I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of my tax dollars being used to pay the salaries of public school teachers who humiliate and bully Christian boys and girls.”
Yet in a statement to the local school board, released after the investigation into the case was completed, the teacher involved in the case, Tammy Williams, denied the family’s account of events.
She explained that the incident happened during sharing time, a time meant to help children develop communication and listening skills, and that it was not a formal, oral report.
“When she started her share, she pulled out her golden [Christmas tree] star that I held for her as she pulled out her prepared speech written by one of her parents. This was unusual because rarely does a student have a prepared statement to read,” Williams said. “As I held the star, the student began to read her statement. I helped her with a few words that she was having trouble with. I decided that I would have the student stop after sharing about Mary and Joseph. I felt that it would take too long and I still needed her to take her question and I had a few clarifying questions for her as well.”
She further explained the child did not respond by feeling attacked and seemed to understand that their were other children that needed their turn to talk before the bell rang. She also stressed that shed did not stop the child because she was reading from the Bible, because Brynn never got to that part of her prepared speech.
“What saddens me is that this story was twisted into lies and brought to the media,” the first grader teacher who was called an amazing first grade teacher by her principal concluded. “I have never sat down and discussed this directly with the family or the student. I am instead being used to push an agenda for the Advocates for Faith and Freedom.”
The principal, Ami Paradise supported Williams’ accounts of the events. “I stand behind Mrs. Tammy Williams 110% and find it extremely unfortunate that the Advocates for Faith and Freedom have irrevocably caused damage to her good name,” Paradise told the board in the published verbatim. “The days will pass and this story will not be at the top of the news for long, but the damage that it has done to the good names of Helen Hunt Jackson Elementary School, Mrs. Tammy Williams, and myself will be difficult to repair.”
Photo Credit: Advocates for Faith and Freedom
About the author
Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.