Kindergarten teacher's viral post: 'My mental and physical health was in jeopardy'

Jessica Gentry said she loves kids, but is leaving her job of 12 years.

August 19, 2019, 3:56 AM

Jessica Gentry, a former kindergarten teacher at Stone Spring Elementary School in Harrisonburg, Virginia, said she loves children, but that wasn't enough for her to stay in the job she's had for the last 12 years.

In a viral Facebook post that's been shared more than 150,000 times, Gentry writes, "Let me tell you why those who ooze passion for teaching are leaving the occupation like their hair is on fire."

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She goes on to outline the five main reasons why she felt she needed to leave. Among them: kids behaving poorly because of a lack of parental involvement; a move by schools to embrace technology at the expense of relationship building; taking away planning and instructional time from teachers; parents who do not act in partnership with teachers but against them; and the jeopardy of her own mental and physical health.

"Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they're getting," she wrote, of the problems she experienced teaching. "Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told 'don't lose sleep over them' ... when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission ... these messages tear you apart."

Gentry told "Good Morning America" the decision to leave was a difficult one, and she reached out to human resources on two occasions.

"There were a few major events that spurred my departure. I hold teaching in such high regard that watching my most recent administration laugh about students with disabilities, state that we 'shouldn't lose sleep over' struggling students, say that she [a school administrator] 'washed her hands of this year' in April was disheartening to say the least," she said.

Michael Richards, the superintendent of Harrisonburg City Public Schools told "GMA" it's the first time he has heard about the accusations Gentry makes with regard to students with disabilities.

"If Ms. Gentry's accusation about staff allegedly making fun of special needs students is true, this would be an incident that would be investigated and taken very seriously. Harrisonburg City Public Schools staff are dedicated, hard-working professionals who care for all children daily," Richards said.

The former teacher said she's been surprised by the response to her post. While there have been a few negative comments, most have been "overwhelmingly positive."

"There is an enormous amount of educators who feel that exact way but have felt alone and guilty for thinking so," Gentry told "GMA." " I never expected it to reach farther than a few friends -- but I am so humbled to be able to throw the curtains open on the issue and give those who feel unable to say it a voice."

She hopes that her post can inspire some kind of change.

"I'd love nothing more than to do work with those willing to listen to change the current path our public education system is headed down. I promised my coworkers when I left that I'd be the voice for them since so many fear being reprimanded for speaking up," she said.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 17, 2019.