Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Nate Fisher is NOT in the News Again....

....But he should be.

Back in September, Nate Fisher, a young English teacher from Guilford High School, mistakenly handed a graphic novel to a student in his freshman English class without getting permission from his Dept. Chair. The girl’s parents discovered the book and believed strongly that it was inappropriate reading material for their daughter. Their response triggered the involvement of a whole litany of officials: the High School principal, the School Superintendent and even the police. Mr. Fisher was placed on administrative leave and soon after he resigned his position.

There was a huge backlash from students and parents who strongly supported Mr. Fisher. The young student was apparently harassed at school. A Face book group was created by students in support of Mr. Fisher, which was eventually shut down due to inappropriate postings. The blogosphere voraciously took on many of the issues surrounding Mr. Fisher’s resignation, myself included. The local news media reported quite a bit as well.

And then….nothing. Once Mr. Fisher was cleared of all charges (there ended up being a police investigation), there was nothing left to say. At least nothing left to blog about or to report on. However, for his former students at Guilford High School, for the readers of the blogs and for those who followed the news, everyone was left wondering how he would pick up the pieces of his life. This is one of the reasons why the media can be wearisome. How many times do they report on stories and then leave us hanging indefinitely?

Well, in the case of Nate Fisher, I personally followed up. Okay, I give all the credit to a friend who had heard that he is teaching again in Durham, CT (just north of Guilford). Through her persistence, she found an article about him, written by a student, in the high school newspaper. I feel obliged to send the good word out. Here is a snippet of the article:

“He’s interesting and brings a new perspective to the classroom.” Having experience as the editor in chief of the literary magazine at UConn Mr. Fisher intends to, with the help of his senior creataive writing class, start a literary magazine for the school. This will be the first literary magazine at Coginchaug in four years. He feels that this will be good for the students of the school. Since students spend most of their time writing for classes and teachers, he feels it will be a “good opportunity for students to write for themselves and show Coginchaug’s creative expression.”

Mr. Fisher deserves to be congratulated. He was not driven out of the State of Connecticut or even out of the region, nor was he forced to reinvent himself as something else in order to find a job. He is doing just what he loves, right next door to the town that potentially could have ruined his career. He had the stamina and fortitude to move on with clearly the same passion for teaching that he exuded as a teacher at Guilford High School. Although I am told that Mr. Fisher’s replacement is an excellent teacher; she is not Nate Fisher.

It would be an unforgettable gesture if Mr. Fisher were invited back to speak to his former students to tell them personally that he is doing just fine. A while back, I wrote about how this event was a lost teaching moment. Here is a second chance for the Guilford High School administration to turn this debacle into a significant learning opportunity for its students. It may not be an academic learning moment, but it sure could serve as a character building moment - an equally important skill set that demands attention during adolescence.

Nate Fisher faced a huge consequence for a mistake that he made, but it appears that it only made him stronger and more determined to pursue his passion to teach. If I were the principal of Guilford High School, I might just consider going out on a limb and doing something radical. I might hold out my hand to Mr. Fisher in a gesture of good will and invite him back to talk to his former students. This might at least put a dressing on the wounds of the kids he left behind and serve as the final lesson he never had the opportunity to teach them.

I guess it has the potential to cause some controversy. But hey, isn’t it better to get our kids thinking about the hard stuff that they may confront in their own lives and show them by example that people can move on and maybe even forgive and be forgiven for their mistakes?


Anonymous said...

It was a strange coincidence that I happened to Google Nate Fisher's name today to see there was anything new out there. Thank you for following up on his story.

Nate is moving on with is life and career at Coginchaug High School (although this is a substitue position for one year and he may be looking for another job for Sept 08). It sounds as though the students there are benefiting from his talents and dedication. I'd like to report that he did return to Guilford High School to attend a class play. He met some of his students and I think this brought some closure to the entire horrible and unnecessary event. It did for me.... I'm his mother and am incredibly proud of him and the way he handled everything. They say that what doesn't break you makes you stronger; Nate is living proof that this old adage rings true.

Thanks to all of his supporters. No need to worry about Nate... he's doing just fine!

Corinne Fisher

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a fabulous comment...and what a fabulous teacher..

Leslie said...


I am glad you happened upon my post today. I am so happy to hear that Nate truly is doing well. It seemed, from the article that he was flourishing. I wish him all the best, and I am glad that the experience only strengthened him. Coginchaug is lucky to have him and if he wishes to, I hope he can get a permanent position there... and from one mom to another, it appears that he is lucky to have you as well!

Anonymous said...

Leslie -

One more "thank you" for your support over these last months. He and I appreciate your blogs as the voice of reason in a time of such confusion.

It is incumbent on us Moms to support our children through the best and worst of times no matter how old they are. Nathan's been through the worst and it certainly took it's toll, but now we can look to the future. I was happy I could be there to support him.

I will forward your article to him so he'll be sure to see this. Take care, Leslie!


Karoli said...

Leslie, thanks for following up on this and posting an update. I'm so glad to hear that this talented teacher is using his skills and standing tall.

To Corinne Fisher --

Applause to you for raising a courageous and talented man to teach our kids. I'm also glad to hear he met some of his students after everything that happened.

Leslie said...


Please do forward this to Nate and send him our best. I am glad that you found "a voice of reason" here - as an onlooker it was a frustrating time to observe such division and anger. It seemed that the notion of "humanness' was lost... but let's not go back there. Much better to focus on the positive and the future.

You are absolutely right - our kids need our support no matter what their age! As our own kids move toward adulthood, we should never forget that. Best of luck to you.

Julie Pippert said...

Thanks for following-up on his story and I agree with your point. We're so knee-jerk, without thought to all POVs and consequences. Who gained here? Well luckily? It sounds like quite a few managed to pull something diamond-like out of the crap, not least of which Mr. Fisher.

And wow his mom commented---fantastic!