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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Parents respond to the punishment of Summerland teacher

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December 29, 2016 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Editor,

After seeing virtually the same article published many times in different media publications, we feel the need to write a letter of support for Blair Haddrell. Blair is the School District 67 Okanagan Skaha teacher who was reprimanded for making “inappropriate comments” to grade 9 students on the 2014/2015 girls’ basketball team.

We are parents of some of the girls on that team. 

Blair told a female student “you are a good looking grade 9” and “you can date anyone you want” in the presence of many other girls on that team. The circumstance surrounding this comment was: a female student was distraught and crying because of a personal matter between her and her “boyfriend.” If you ask girls from that team they will tell you Blair was trying to console and counsel the athlete in this case.

Articles also state: “In another instance, Haddrell told two female students who were going to a dance “you are good looking, guys will want to dance with you.” This was in reference to the girls being nervous about going to their first high school dance. Two of the undersigned parents are aware Blair made this comment to their daughters and don’t see anything wrong with the context of the situation.   

Blair has coached many of these girls for years. Due to his infectious passion for basketball he led this particular grade 9 team, and others, to the provincials.  Because he views his athletes “outside difficulties” as opportunities to further support them, Blair is a trusted and well respected coach. This type of concern leaves a strong impression on his players. 

Any coach understands that the emotional tone of a team greatly affects how players practice and perform. Blair inspires his athletes to believe in themselves which builds the athletes' loyalty to the team, self-esteem and motivation. This cultivates an environment in which the players feel comfortable speaking about their problems. 

Unfortunately, coaching is a particularly visible role that over and over places the coach in a position of public critical observation. It also leaves the coach at risk for being put in a precarious set of circumstances (either by a parent or an athlete) if an athlete isn’t given enough playing time, etc.  

Sadly, recent articles written about Blair have a defaming tone. Although the articles contain facts, they, in all likelihood due to privacy and confidentiality laws, do not contain the entire story or the exact circumstance in which the statements were made. This leaves interpretation open to the reader.

This occurrence is a dramatic loss all around. It's a loss of valuable coaching for students of School District 67, the translational loss of empowering students, potential for a perceived loss of a good reputation to those who do not know the circumstances and loss of respect for investigation and disciplinary processes.

Hang in there Blair, as we see the same tiresome article printed ad nauseam, know you are supported.

— Lauri Hanko, Nikki Gorman, Jenel Young and Shawn Eshelman: parents of daughters from the 2014/2015 girls grade 9 basketball team.


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