Kaitlin Pearson, a 23-year-old teacher’s aide who worked with special education students and who was also a model, was placed on paid administrative leave on January 17 after some of her modeling photos surfaced.
But there’s great news! She has her job back.
In a press release on January 28, Superintendent of Schools Andre Ravenelle announced Pearson’s reinstatement:
“After reviewing all relevant information, Ms. Kaitlin Pearson was notified Monday afternoon that she could return to work, effective immediately,” the release states. “She resumed her original duties at South Street Elementary School on Tuesday morning. We are confident that she will bring the same level of commitment to her job and her students that she always has.”
Really? That’s not what he was saying a few days ago. Could it be that media pressure has forced him to change his mind?
Kaitlin Pearson’s suspension from the South Street Elementary School in Fitchburg, Mass., posed a really interesting question: Can a teacher’s aide have a second job as a model?
Well, did it matter that President Clinton was a proven womanizer and cheated on his wife? Did that mean that he was not fit to be president?
The whole incident started on January 17 when an anonymous package was delivered to Superintendent Andre Ravenelle at his office at Fitchburg Public Schools in Worcester County; the package contained photos of Pearson. Some of the photos are described in modeling as “elegant implied nudes,” meaning she was covering her nipples and genitals with her hands or legs and posing alongside other nude women.
Others show her wearing T-shirts, bikinis or lingerie. You know, the clothes that models wear.
Pearson posted dozens of partially nude photos of herself on her public Facebook page and in modeling publications, including ModelsMania – which named her model of the year. The young woman was thrilled and considered this a sign of success.
“To think that one year ago I was a girl picked up by a small modeling group (thing) branched out and spread my wings and was given the highest honor a model could ask for,” Pearson posted on Facebook. “Many thanks again and I am wear this name proudly.”
Superintendent Ravenelle didn’t share Pearson’s excitement.
“The paraprofessional was immediately placed on a paid leave of absence to assure student safety during the investigation and to mitigate potential disruption,” the superintendent said in the statement. Ravenelle said the school checks only a prospective employee’s criminal history, so the modeling shots would not turn up in a pre-hiring screening.
Teacher’s aides are not well paid, and yet they open up their hearts to their students. Pearson could not possibly make enough money as a teacher’s aide to support herself, and so she needed to have another job, simply in order to survive.
I have known plenty of teachers and teacher’s aides in this situation. The education profession is simply not the most lucrative, and many educators are forced to seek extra work.
Why on earth should being a good model preclude Pearson’s ability to be a good teacher? Her modeling career was not a part of her teaching career but a total and separate entity. As Superintendent Ravenelle stated, Ms. Pearson underwent and passed a full criminal background check.
Whoever sent that package to Ravenelle obviously has a grudge against Pearson, but do they really believe that this young teacher’s aide is corrupting her young charges? Is that the issue?
Her second-job situation poses no threat to the student body, and her father agrees.
“That’s her private life. She’s 23,” Chuck Pearson said. “She’s a grown-up woman.”
Parents who learned of the situation are split on how they feel about the situation. Most believe that, as long as Pearson is exhibiting professionalism, putting the well-being and education of her special needs kids first, what she does on her own time out of school should not reflect on her abilities as a teacher’s aide.
Of course it shouldn’t.
And now, for whatever reason, Superintendent Ravenelle has seen the light, and decided to reinstate Pearson.
Hooray! Those students are lucky to have Pearson in the classroom again, and I’m sure she is delighted to be back there, doing what she loves.
Photo Credit: Kaitlin Pearson - Model via Facebook