This Memphis Principal Hoped A ‘Mock Funeral’ Would Be Inspiring To Her Staff—It Wasn’t

An elementary school principal tried to inspire teachers to help raise student grades, but her execution fell flat.

Tina Smith, the principal from Getwell Elementary in Shelby County in Memphis, invited faculty members for a meeting to discuss ways in which students could improve test scores.

But her presentation had no PowerPoint or slideshow. Instead, Smith set up a mock funeral with a baby doll inside a basket doubling as a casket, because, you know, nothing communicates motivation better than a dead baby!

Smith provided the teachers, who were mostly women, with a pamphlet featuring a student holding a report card. The words on the flyer read: “In loving memory of madam 2 to 3 years behind.”

She also encouraged them to act as if they were grieving.

Good mourning, everyone!

Smith’s initiative stemmed from the Public School Review indicating that Getwell Elementary scored in the bottom 50% in reading and math in 2015.

Keith Williams, executive director of the Shelby County Teachers Association, is justifiably outraged over Smith’s shocking display.

“That is an insult to those people,” he told news station WHBQ.

Williams continued:

“It is an insult to invite me back for the first day for a funeral.”

“If you think, by any stretch of the imagination, that burying a child in the presence of mostly women, 95% females, is symbolic of improving instruction, something is wrong with you.”

Many people, including mothers who lost children, agreed with Williams over the insensitive presentation.

The misguided attempt prompted some of the teachers who suffered childbirth issues to flee from the simulated funeral.

“Some of the teachers who had recently had challenges with childbirth were overwhelmed and just left the room. Some of them are off today because of it.”

A representative for Shelby County Schools told Yahoo Lifestyle that Smith had good intentions.

“The principal planned a variety of activities during in-service last week aimed to renew the focus and commitment of staff members in the new year.”

The spokesperson continued:

“One activity involved a mock funeral, which was designed as a symbolic act to eliminate negativity and excuses associated with previous years of poor academic performance. Discussions focused on positive strategies and expectations for helping all students be successful.”

“However, after speaking with a few concerned staff members, the principal acknowledged how the activity could be seen as insensitive and personally apologized to the entire staff.”

When it came to strategizing for better student performance, Getwell needed to do better.