Today I sent my 5th grader on his first camping trip away from home. He boarded a school bus and headed to an outdoor science school with his public school class. We have attended private school. We have homeschooled. And this year, we jumped in to our public schools and just like Goldilocks found…it was just right.
There was a person missing from the trip this morning. It was my son’s classroom teacher.
What an insanely shocking revelation this week to find out my son’s 5th grade educator was arrested for allegations of having sexual contact with a minor. Last Wednesday morning, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, there was mention of a police report in Burbank concerning a teacher at the elementary my children attend. I immediately went to my email inbox hoping that I wouldn’t find what I was thinking I might. I am on the mailing list to receive the reports from the Burbank Police, but hadn’t yet checked my email that day.
To my absolute shock, the first sentence in the report contained the full name of the 5th Grade teacher that we had come to adore. Sean Sigler is a fantastic teacher. This is the opinion our family had developed as he’s the teacher that helped us transition our 10 year old from Homeschool to public school with ease. My son was doing so great academically, that Mr. Sigler frequently asked kids to see my son for assistance if he was busy helping another student.
Back to school night was fantastic and encouraging and our parent teacher conferences were comforting, having had Mr. Sigler confirm what we already know about our son, all really great things.
My boy excelled and looked forward to learning math and science every single day. He couldn’t wait to to bring in favorite items from home to share with the class. Mr. Sigler helped him talk honestly with another student in class when he had a problem with the amount of profanity this child used. And it stopped.
This is also the teacher who made national news and was arrested this week in Burbank, following allegations of having an inappropriate sexual encounter with a minor and former student.
To say I was in disbelief would be a massive understatement.
I paced the house in silence all day long, re-reading the report as I gathered my thoughts on the facts that were before me, as if gathering one’s thoughts are easy in a moment of confusion.
My stream of thoughts were most definitely confusing, some of which I’m ashamed to even have run across my mind.
Has my son or any child been in harms way?
Is this teacher a predator…a groomer?
How does a 17 year old connect with a former teacher?
Am I really a bad judge of character?
Maybe this teacher was tricked?
He’s a grown man, this is not okay.
My son is going to be so devastated.
He won’t be coming back, even if proven innocent.
Her life is forever changed.
His life is forever changed.
He made a really, really poor choice.
How do I explain this to my kid?
How will they replace this teacher who made a difference in my son’s life?
Oh, goodness…is this how tricky people work?
He won’t be going to outdoor science school.
How in the world will we explain this to my boy?
How in the world is this real? I mean, isn’t this a news story in other places? To other schools? To other classrooms? To other families?
And then I’m reminded.
He was arrested, which means there’s something really wrong here. He’s a 53 year old grown man and the allegations suggest he has done something that shouldn’t ever be done. And there is a young lady who’s trying to navigate a very difficult, and scary situation.
My heart simply hurt. It really just hurt.
Our Wednesday night dinner conversation was very somber. We explained to the kids what happened, in the very best, most age appropriate way we could.
My son cried and left the dinner table. His shock was as big as ours. We also took the opportunity to talk with our kids about how really awesome people can make really terrible decisions. And that sometimes really terrible people can look like really awesome ones.
I’m not saying this teacher is either one of those right now, because I just don’t know. All I know is our priority is our children, and making sure they all understand what happened is very important. And, as with any major conversation, we wanted the information to come from us, versus the gossip and misinformation that kids often share.
We also took the opportunity to remind our kids who is and who isn’t an adult and some of the rules about relationships our system puts in place. We talked about inappropriate touching and warning signs for protecting themselves against the people we call “tricky people.”
We made it clear that inappropriate situations can come from anywhere…teachers, coaches, family members, strangers…
Today, as there have been several days for me to process this situation, I’m more at peace.
Kids are resilient and more adaptable to change than most adults. My son will be fine.
The school handled this situation beautifully and confidently.
My 5th grader made it to camp and will move forward, as will all the kids.
Ultimately, I’m glad we had another opportunity, with unintended timing, to have a very serious conversation with all three of our children.
And I think that, alone, is the most important part of this situation.