Broncos jersey causes furor in Beaver Falls class
Student says teacher harassed and punished him for wearing orange
Synopsis by Ryan Wilson:
"Western Pennsylvania high school student and Denver Broncos fan, Joshua Vannoy, claims that his teacher and Pittsburgh Steelers fan, John Kelly, forced him to take a test on the floor, and instructed other classmates to pelt him with balled up pieces of paper because he wouldn’t remove his John Elway jersey during last Friday’s class. Some of you might remember Kelly from his role as Buddy Revell in “Three O’Clock High.”"
Joshua Vannoy, 17, wears his Denver Broncos jersey outside of his home in Big Beaver. Joshua wore the jersey to school on Friday and said he was harassed by his teacher, John Kelly, in an ethnic relations class at Big Beaver Falls Area Senior High School. Joshua says he's not a big Broncos fan, just a huge fan of John Elway, whose jersey he is wearing.
January 24, 2006
By Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Robin Rombach, Post-Gazette
When Joshua Vannoy decided to wear a Denver Broncos jersey Friday, he knew there would be some joking from diehard Steelers fans at Big Beaver Falls Area Senior High School.
But he never expected to feel humiliated by his teacher during a mid-term examination and become so shaken up that he could not finish his test.
"I feel awful, like I was dehumanized," said Joshua, 17, a junior and self-described honor student.
He's made a complaint to the principal against John Kelly, who teaches an honors class on ethnic relations, saying the teacher made him sit on the floor to take his test and instructed other classmates to pelt him with balled up sheets of notebook paper.
Donna Nugent, superintendent of Big Beaver Falls Area School District, said she is investigating.
"We're not making light of this at all," Dr. Nugent said.
Mr. Kelly had little to say on the subject yesterday.
"We won the game [Sunday] night, didn't we?" he said. "That's all I was worried about."
School Principal Thomas Karczewski said what happened was "intended as a joke" and that the matter was "getting out of hand."
Joshua said his feelings were hurt, his nerves shattered and Mr. Kelly's reaction to his John Elway No. 7 jersey was anything but humorous.
"He had a dead serious face," said Joshua. "He never laughed at all."
He said when he went to sit down at his regular desk on Friday, Mr. Kelly ordered him to "take those books off my desk. I own that desk." He placed his textbooks on the floor and then sat down at the desk.
Joshua said his teacher told him to "get out of my desk. You're sitting in my desk."
He said Mr. Kelly began sliding the desks into a circle. Then he told Joshua to sit on the floor in the center of the circle.
While Mr. Kelly passed out the tests, he dropped Joshua's test papers, scattering them on the floor so that he had to crawl around and pick them up, Joshua said.
"As I started to write my name on the papers and number them, I noticed he went to the cupboard and grabbed a handful of notebook paper and handed it to all the kids and said, 'This is part two of your test. You'll get points for this. Take the paper and ball it up with two hands and throw it at the Denver fan,' " Joshua said.
Joshua said there were "papers flying everywhere towards me. At one point, a girl refused to do it and he [Mr. Kelly] took the paper off her desk and threw it into the back of my head."
Joshua said he was so furious his hands were shaking and he could hardly concentrate. He said he was lying flat on the carpet trying to answer essay questions about the Israeli Six-Day War and the Cold War while his face burned with shame.
He said he didn't talk back and when the dismissal bell rang, he handed the half-finished test to Mr. Kelly, who "snatched it right out of my hands."
Joshua said he reported the incident to the school principal immediately after a lunch period. He told his parents what happened when he got home.
Mr. Kelly "has never told me not to wear a Denver Broncos jersey in his class," Joshua said. "I probably wouldn't have if I knew it was going to cause this kind of big deal. I just thought it was a shirt."
Humorous responses from footballoutsiders.com:
Well, it was an “ethnic relations” teacher. Maybe he was just demonstrating the proper way to deal with different cultures.
Hazing kids is why most of went into teaching. If you take that away from us, why would we stay? The money? :)
I would like to believe that the teacher was using this as a case study in ethnic relations. Exhibiting what happens when one faction has absolute control and can subject another faction to humiliating and degrading treatment. It’s equally likely that the teacher is just a prick. In any event the kid should be able to retake his test and the teacher owes him an apology. Of course the kid is going out of his way to look mopey in that picture…
Ben Roethlisberger is an Elway fan, and even chose his number in honor of Elway. Thus I find it mildly amusing that this kid was abused by a Steelers fan for being an Elway fan.
The teachers’ union in Pennsylvania being what it is, I expect nothing more than a stern talking-to for the teech. And this bit from the horse’s [mouth]:
“We won the game [Sunday] night, didn’t we?” he said. “That’s all I was worried about.”
…sure makes it seem that he wasn’t thinking of this as an object lesson in ethnic relations. It also makes it seem that he feels no need for spin or cover. He’s fine with his actions.
I don’t buy the idea of it being a class lesson–any responsible teacher would take the kid aside beforehand and ask “Would you like to participate in a little joke? It’ll be a quick lesson about oppressing minorities.” Some students wouldn’t feel comfortable being in that situation, even if it wasn’t for real. And the teacher certainly wouldn’t make the kid sit on the floor for during a test as part of a joke. There are other ways of teaching a class than physically humiliating a child. Fire that idiot now.
If the teacher was using this as a study in ethnic relations, the school should use this as a study in firing teachers.
I had the same response you did - what an idiot. Did he think his humilation of the student somehow contributed to the Steeler victory? This guy seems too stupid to be teaching anyone anything.
30: That’s why I suspect this “teacher” is in actuality a football coach furfilling some teaching requirement so he can continue to be the coach.
oh big deal, the kid is 17, he isn’t a baby. And he’s a Broncos fan, how humiliating could that have been?
You want to be humiliated? Grow up a Jets fan.
:: Jets fan