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Teacher of the year fired
over '4-letter-word' quiz

A former teacher of the year in South Florida is hoping to keep her teaching license after she was fired last week for giving her freshman high-school students a creative quiz hinting of sexuality and obscene language.

Kim Littrell’s “Keep Your Mind Clean” assignment asked ninth-graders in her English class at Fort Pierce Westwood High School to write down answers to ten questions, with no “bad words” allowed.

One question read: “What is a four-letter word that ends in K and means the same as intercourse?” Hint: You do it all the time, especially when you shouldn’t, except when your parents ask what you did in school.” The answer, according to Littrell, is “talk.”

Other questions and answers included:

“I like to have fun with my kids,” Littrell told WorldNetDaily, maintaining it was an exercise in critical thinking designed to prompt students to think of clean, rather than dirty responses.

But after a year-long battle, officials reviewing the case came to another conclusion.

“Sexual content and vulgarity-centered assignments, even if intended to promote ‘creative thinking,’ are not acceptable,” wrote J.D. Parrish, the administrative law judge who recommended to the St. Lucie County School Board that Littrell be fired.

Though use of inappropriate words in Littrell’s class was not permitted, students did in fact utter words considered obscene by many, including the F-word and the S-word.

The teacher explained to her class the origins of the “objectionable” terms, believing “that setting the record straight on the origin of the word would take the amusement value out of using the word such that usage would be deterred,” according to Parrish’s report.

Littrell addressed that point in an online opinion addressed to “all of the rest of the judges out there.”

I did teach what the acronym means (f-word and s-word, as well as what the meaning of flipping someone off or shooting a bird). You should all look it up on about.com under word etymologies. I also fed kids for 16 years that came to school hungry, baked for my students, bought them clothes, cared for them and listened to them when their parents didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t. Maybe some of you should just go in a high school and sub. Why do you think there is a teacher/substitute shortage? Because all the children use the very best manners they were raised with? I am amazed at all the critics out there that have never met me and judge me.

Littrell, who was nominated in “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” four times, says most of the students in her class “were non-readers – quite a few were felons,” contending the whole issue was sparked by one disgruntled student.

“She had a straight-F [grade-point average],” Littrell said. “She was a problem kid.”

As far as public reaction, Littrell is receiving both scorn and praise on the Internet:

The loss of Littrell’s teaching position was just the beginning of bad news for her. She says once word spread locally about her case, she was also fired from her other job assisting hurricane victims with Project HOPE in St. Lucie County.