A teacher at a public middle school in Florida has rubbed parents and school officials the wrong way with her highly unorthodox teaching methods.
The teacher, Anna Garrett, is on paid leave and under investigation because she allegedly used sandpaper to punish students who misspelled words during a spelling lesson, reports St. Petersburg CBS affiliate WTSP.
The alleged incident occurred on Jan. 23 in class in a sixth-grade class at Burns Middle School in Brandon, Fla., a rapidly growing Tampa area suburb.
Students and parents complained that Garrett forced the students to write previously misspelled words onto sandpaper repeatedly – until the coarse surface caused their fingers to bleed.
“We had to trace letters like ‘I’ and ‘J’,” 11-year-old Josh Sommer told CBS Tampa Bay. “By the end of the time, my whole table was bleeding.”
Sommer added that Garrett told the poor spellers students to trace each word into the sandpaper a total of five times.
When students protested to Garrett, she reportedly reacted by ordering them to be quiet and continue working, says WTSP.
The students reportedly continued grinding their hands into the sandpaper, in spite of the pain.
“I didn’t want to get yelled at by my teacher,” Sommer told the station.
Sommer’s mother added that this alleged incident isn’t the first time Burns has employed nontraditional teaching methods.
The school official interviewed by CBS Tampa Bay said he did not think the teacher meant to intentionally hurt any of the children.
“There are some students complaining that it hurt their fingers, and we don’t think that’s a good way to learn,” said school spokesperson Steve Hegarty. “I don’t have any reason to believe that she was trying to abuse kids, but the outcome was not a good one.”
Garrett, a 30-year veteran teacher, is reportedly prohibited from entering her classroom for the duration of the school district’s investigation.