After Asking Students to Write Their Obituary, Teacher Is Out

High school assignment was prompted by plans for an active shooter drill
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2023 2:55 PM CDT
After Asking Students to Write Their Obituary, Teacher Is Out
   (Getty/Lincoln Beddoe)

When he learned the Orlando high school where he teaches was going to hold an active shooter drill that day, Jeffrey Keene had an idea for an assignment. "This isn't a way to upset you or anything like that," Keene said he told the 35 students in his first-period psychology class. Then he asked them to reflect on their lives, NBC News reports. Keene said he wanted them to consider, "if they died 24 hours from now, what would they do differently than they did yesterday?" Part of the assignment was to write their own obituary. By the end of the day, the teacher had been fired.

One student grew upset during class and asked to see a counselor, per WSVN, which brought a supervisor to watch Keene's second-period class. By then, Keene said, students were telling him that Dr. Phillips High School administrators were interviewing them about the assignment. He told WOFL he was given the chance to resign but declined, saying he hadn't done anything wrong. Keene said he's a new hire and wasn't in the union yet, leaving him little recourse. Still, he said he'll appeal the firing. Administrators confirmed the dismissal but would not otherwise discuss the case. Keene said he didn't think the topic would stress his students. "If you can't talk real to them, then what's happening in this environment?" he said. (More teacher firing stories.)

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