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Should North High JROTC Major Godin Lose His Job For Calling A Deceased Former Student A Punk?

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North High has gotten a lot of bad publicity because it’s run by a despot on a power trip, who is basically bought and paid for by the Circlejerk hippie prize patrol. But one of it’s shining stars is the JROTC program, which has been led for 20 years by Major Stephen Godin. The award winning group instills discipline in students who otherwise might be inclined to get in trouble. That’s why it came as a shock when we were emailed information last night that Mr. Godin has been on paid administrative leave for the last few months.

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His suspension revolved around a former North High student named Sam Castro, who was shot and killed in May. Here is what he told us in the letter:

At about 0700 on Thursday a senior cadet came into the JROTC office with a basket upon which a sign was affixed soliciting donations for the deceased student’s family. She asked if I cared to contribute and I replied that “I’m sorry, but he was a punk and that’s why he’s dead, and I can’t support that.” The JROTC program is also known as the “Citizenship Development Program” and encouraging cadets to make good choices is an important part of what I do. The gangmember had been a student of mine in the JROTC program, missed a lot of school, and when he was in school didn’t do much work and pretty much disrupted classes. In a T&G article on gang violence his mother noted that he was going to enroll at Quinsig and earn his GED, so it doesn’t look like he even graduated from North. My intent was to have this bright, talented young lady, who had communicated her intentions of going into the Air Force (she had transferred from Burncoat in her senior year, which leads one to wonder why a talented young lady would leave all of her friends behind for her senior year in high school) after graduation, to think about the consequences of gang involvement.

The cadet must have discussed my comment with other cadets because somewhere around noontime another senior came into my office and asked to speak to me. He said “with all due respect sir, I don’t think the deceased was a punk” and went on to describe their relationship. I responded that his impression may be true, but mine as an adult and major in the Marine Corps saw things differently, and that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression and that the deceased had made a pretty poor impression on me. As part of the administration’s investigation into this event the cadet was asked to write a statement describing our conversation, was concerned that it could be used against me, and subsequently added a paragraph describing how I have positively influenced his life. I’ve never been given an opportunity to read his statement.

According to Mr. Godin, a couple of days later he saw the cadet/student he had spoken with previously about Sam Castro

After fifth period, about an hour and a half later, I was going back to the JROTC office to eat lunch and the two girls were still there, had been joined by another young lady, and they were all on their phones. I stopped and said “Girls, you can’t hang out here all day. You’ll have to go to the office and figure this out.” At that time the new girl became belligerent and insubordinate and said words to the effect that she didn’t care what I said, that they were not leaving. At that point I said “OK, I’ll go find and an assistant principal to handle this” and walked down to the cafeteria where lunch was in progress. I related the issue to Mrs. Lupafya and we walked back to the auditorium lobby.

When we came around the corner by the main office, the disrespectful young woman was going into the office so I pointed her out to Mrs. Lupafya and said that “she was one of the girls and she was the one that was disrespectful.” As that point the student exploded saying “how can you talk about being disrespectful when you said Sam was a punk and deserved to die.” 

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Soon afterwards Mr. Godin was brought into Lisa Dyer’s office by assistant principal John Creamer. According to Mr. Godin the conversation centered around his own safety, since he had essentially called a deceased man, who he believes to have gang affiliations, a “punk.” Then, according to him, the following interaction occurred:

Eventually, Mrs. Dyer said “Didn’t anyone ever teach you to respect the dead?” In an effort to help her understand that I’m not superstitious and afraid of ghosts I said to her “Mrs. Dyer, I’m not religious, I don’t believe in the sanctity of life, and as far as I’m concerned, lethal injection would be the solution to a lot of society’s problems.” This initiated a heated discussion that touched on, amongst other things, the utility of alternative educational programs and the education of criminals; at the conclusion of which the meeting ended and I went back and completed the school day.”

Shortly after this Mr. Godin was put on administrative leave, and according to the writeup from Lisa Dyer he was misquoted as telling a student “all punks should get lethal injection.” According to Mr. Godin it reminds him of the way Janice Harvey was treated back during Color-blind-gate. Since then he’s basically been getting the run around about meetings in which he would be able to fight this, which have never happened. Now he’s pissed off and he’s talking about it.

There’s a whole page to the email I’m not going to include because I can summarize it pretty simply. Mr. Godin is old school. He believes in discipline, and he’s of the belief that the lawlessness and criminality we’ve seen in Worcester this summer can largely be traced to the fact that we don’t come down hard on kids such as the girl who sassed him in the cafeteria. His basic premise is that he said these things to the cadet under his care, because it’s the truth and he wasn’t gonna sugarcoat it.

So there’s his take, now here’s Turtleboy’s. 

Look, Turtleboy is an old school, tough love kind of guy. We do like that about this guy and in general we think kids need to stop giving kids hugs and start giving them demerits. But even this is too much for TB. The bottom line is that when you work with kids you can’t tell them that you don’t believe in the “sanctity of life.” You can’t say that “lethal injection would be the solution to a lot of society’s problems.” Can’t do it. You’re certainly entitled to free speech, but it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to a job at North High School.

I do understand the point he was trying to prove, but there were a million different ways he could’ve communicated that better than by calling a dead kid a “punk” and saying that he doesn’t believe in the “sanctity of life.” And there’s certainly no need to say that we should start euthanizing everyone who breaks the law. I don’t wanna live in a country where the death penalty is arbitrarily given to anyone who gets arrested or dabbles in gang activity. This isn’t Goddamn Russia.

Here’s what he could’ve said when the cadet asked him to contribute to Sam Castro’s fund:

Hey Sally, I understand you’re going through a tough time right now, and death sucks. Believe me, I’ve seen a lot of it in my lifetime, I know the feeling. But by giving to this fund, I don’t know where the money is going to end up, and I am afraid I would be contributing to the vicious cycle that ends up in 18 year olds getting shot. How about we start a scholarship in his name instead?”

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See that? It communicates the same message and you still come out of it looking like you have an ounce of compassion in your body. Look, I didn’t know Sam Castro, and I don’t know if he was in a gang or whatever. It’s besides the point.

We’re talking about how adults communicate to kids about life and death situations INSIDE of a public high school. I understand that Mr. Godin is probably a great marine, and has done a great job instilling discipline in east side kids over the years. But part of working with kids is that you have to be able to communicate with them effectively. And clearly this was not effective in any way, shape, or form.

The most troubling thing about this is that Mr. Godin admits that he said he doesn’t value the “sanctity of life.” He’s more than entitled not to, but if you don’t value every single life then why are you working in a high school? It’s your job as an educator to see the value in every student. How can you possibly say that you care about the 1,350 kids in that school if you don’t value every single one of their lives from the moment they walk through the door? That’s not some sort of “agree to disagree” situation. It’s a deciding factor in whether or not you can be employed in a public high school.

I understand that this guy has done some amazing things for JROTC kids over the years, and that once incident should not diminish all of that. I think this could’ve been handled differently by administration as well. Here’s what a normal principal not named Lisa Dyer would’ve done. She or he would’ve brought both students and Mr. Godin into his office. She or he would’ve explained that Mr. Godin had been at the school for 20 years and had shaped the lives of many students since before they were born. She or he also would’ve explained that he didn’t mean to be disrespectful, and that Mr. Godin wanted to apologize. Then all of this would’ve been over with.

But we’re dealing with two people who quite frankly, both seem to be unable to admit that they are capable of making a mistake. Dyer is an insane hippie who doesn’t think it was a mistake to accuse one of her teacher’s of being a racist because she said that she’s “color blind.” Godin doesn’t think he made a mistake either.

Look at the situation with the girl at the table. One was in JROTC and the other wasn’t. He describes the cadet as “bright and talented” but he describes the other girl as “disrespectful and insubordinate.” Was the other girl disrespectful? Sounds like it. But at the same time, she could’ve been Sam Castro’s sister or cousin for all he knew. And by calling Sam Castro a “punk,” he disrespected her too. And respect is a two way street. The bottom line is that he saw that both students were breaking school rules, but he he clearly gave the impression that he viewed one of them as salvageable, while the other was hopeless. This quote from Mr. Godin’s explains it best:

“Can a private comment I made in a one-on-one conversation with a cadet that responded as I intended result in this? The cadet was just fine with our conversation until provoked by the hot head six days later. How can I be held responsible for what comes out at the end of the “telephone” game?”

See that? He’s justifying it. It’s not his fault she’s upset that he called Sam Castro a punk, it’s her friend’s fault for manipulating her to be compassionate. Sorry Major, this isn’t what came out of the end of the “telephone game” it’s the actual words that came out of your mouth and how they were perceived.

Look, I’m all for suspending and expelling them when they act like savages, but at the same time I think you need to have a serious conversation with every kid that does get disciplined. Because the goal isn’t to spit in these kid’s faces, it’s to punish them while at the same time teaching them about right vs. wrong and leading them down the right path.

Lastly, you can’t compare this to the Janice Harvey situation. Completely different. In Janice Harvey’s case she was talking about how she valued every student who walked through her door and explained that she did NOT judge any of them – she was color-blind. But Mr. Godin is clearly making the distinction that he values students from JROTC, but doesn’t seem to care so much about students who aren’t.

The bottom line is, you can be an old school disciplinarian, but there’s obvious lines you’re not supposed to cross. And Mr. Godin clearly crossed them. It doesn’t mean he should lose his job, but it doesn’t make what he did right either.

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33 Comment(s)
  • Loyal reader
    September 1, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    x

  • Finally
    September 1, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Sorry TB…..I love your blogs but I’m shocked and definitely don’t agree with you on this one. His choice of words “punk” (seeing how he’s old school) means troublemaker (a person who habitually causes difficulty or problems, especially by inciting others to defy those in authority), our “new school” understanding of it is: an agressive(ready or likely to attack or confront;) and violent(using or involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something)young criminal. What he said in his “old school”mentality to the student was completely innocent and (in his eyes) honest.

    His comment “lethal injection would be the solution to a lot of society’s problems.” was a bit harsh but wasn’t that comment made while he was speaking with another adult? (if I understood correctly)

    What the real problem with these young kids and THEIR parents is that they need someone to always hold their hands, cater to their emotions, stroke their ego’s, always validate them ALL WHILE THEY’RE BEING DISRESPECTFUL, RUDE, IRRATIONAL ETC. Enough with babying them. Its very sad and unfortunate at what happened to this young man and as a parent it does hurt to see these children dying so young.

    WITH THAT BEING SAID WE (AS PARENTS)NEED TO WORK TOGETHER TO STOP THE VIOLENCE (And start shifting the focus on ourselves and what we need to do NOT on everyone else and what they didn’t do or what they may have said) BECAUSE NOT EVERY young man was about (key word is ABOUT!!!!!) to get his GED, start a job, make a change, look at some colleges etc…….Let’s stop it already.

    GIVE THE MAN BACK HIS JOB.

  • Nope, no thanks
    September 1, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Before I even continue to read this blog, I need to call your attention to a spelling error that I keep noticing here on TBS. The ONLY time you use an apostrophe with the word “it’s” is when you are combining the words “it” and “is.” I know this isn’t a professional media outlet but I think it’s important to use correct grammar and spelling if you want to be taken seriously by people whose opinion matters.

    I know I’ve been critical in my comments lately but I do feel you are providing a valuable service to the greater Worcester community and would like to see your writing skills improve. Just trying to help…

  • RSoxGuy
    September 1, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Whosthe principal at North High? Ohh ya. Thats why this school is a shit hole. Bring back this honorable and moral man and give him Dyer’s job. She obviously cant do anything without fucking it up.

  • strata
    September 1, 2015 at 7:42 am

    He probably shouldn’t have said it that way, but spare me the “manufactured outrage”. I believe his assessment of the youth was probably spot on. Why is it that good contributing members of society are DISRESPECTED everyday in so many ways…. but no headlines or mentions of that from these same complainers.

  • Tom Bostock
    September 1, 2015 at 6:54 am

    Turtleboy, you blew this one. Whether his comments to the principal were appropriate is debatable, but the administrator’s totalitarian display of failed leadership was not. Here is a marine with twenty years of service in the public schools and enough time in grade to make major in the marine Corps and she, in effect, banishes him to the gulag. She could have shooed the girls out, closed the door, and chewed his ass out if she thought he had been inappropriate. She fell back on the pusillanimous suspension and put him in limbo.This is typical Lisa Dyer (the principal) and why the word “leadership” is foreign to her vocabulary.

  • squirtleboy
    September 1, 2015 at 2:30 am

    major Godin is an old school, no bullshit guy. i hated him in rotc but looking back he was pretty cool. i agree with him, also Worcester is full of gangs now. shit is weak

  • September 1, 2015 at 12:40 am

    As I was educating some of your readers about panhandling in your other article, this one pertains to a choice of words and beliefs, in no way should that be held against him, he is who he is,and he was the same when they hired him over 20 years ago, this is a story that makes TB great the panhandlers story using a pic of a man as low as you can be(possibly), not to smear him but use it against someone who was protecting the rights of these people, I know it’s a sore sight but we have abortion clinics to look at and there “legal”. This man has integrity and should not be bothered about this,we need men like this.

    • Areyouserious?
      September 1, 2015 at 6:18 am

      That hurt to read. What does any of that mean?

  • anonymous
    August 31, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Problems with this situation:

    1. A girl was allowed to collect charity for this criminal’s family, presumably for funeral expenses. This should not be allowed. Let him get a state sponsored cremation and a summary flush down the toilet.

    2. The girl disrespected the major and then he had to go find an assistant principal to complain. He should of bent her over and whipped her with his belt right then and there.

    I completely understand your point of view Turtleboy, and I respect you for valuing kind and respectful treatment towards everyone.
    Your commentariat is made up of people (including myself) who see their home and their entire way of life being destroyed, and it’s reasonable for them to have a strong reaction against that. We don’t want to play nice while our house is burning down, we believe in fixing our town and not letting anyone stand in our way. All these hippies and the bums and addicts and ignorant people and everyone else making Worcester a shithole to live in don’t respect us, themselves, or anything at all. Giving them dignity is like giving dignity to the cancer growing inside your body. You simply cut it out.

    Anything less means utter destruction for kind, gentle people who deserve to walk to school in the morning without stepping on needles, or walk home at night without being robbed. I stand on the side of soldiers who have done a service to our country and to worcester’s children in JROTC for decades, rather than the punk cousin of some
    punk who got lived by the glock and died by the glock.

  • August 31, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Maybe Major Godin should be made the principal of North High…I’d love to see what he would do with that sewer of a school!! TB, these are bad times in the Worcester school system and now it is time for a REAL change..Not time to sugar-coat every word that comes out of our mouths. This ” political correct” bullshit in everything has got to stop…

  • Nanny
    August 31, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Or not… curious. I posted content here and it disappeared. Interesting.

  • BannedNanny
    August 31, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    TB banned Nanny

  • WTF
    August 31, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Wait did TB get hacked by the hippys ?? When you of all people think a Major needs to be more PC the world truly has gone to shit..How many young punks do you thin he has seen in his days..How many has he turned around and you dont think this guy is one of the best person to judge what a punk is in this entire city ?

    This will not hurt him as much as it will hurt the kids who he could be turning around..But instead they will jerk him around because he wont join the PC army WTF

    The site has to have been hacked..

  • An etymologist here
    August 31, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    After five words in, people stop listening. Your soft soap, wishy washy, little alternate response suggestion is BS. The major clearly knows the five word situation. These are kids whose brains are not fully developed. Their attention spans are miniscule so saying something terse and harsh gets their attention.

    You want the real problem here? Those children are given complete power over their disciplinarian. So the major thinks the deceased was a punk and he thinks criminals are worthless. Well, his opinion on that should not be disaplined. Now the kids know the have leave to get what the want, a group of them can get together an say the authority figure the hate for not letting them get away with shit and dishing out well earned punishment, said something unPC and boom revenge.

    The response of the school and even you TB, is part of the problem these days. Kids are taught no respect and it gets reinforced. We are witnessing the consequences and even the root of the problem.

    • Nope, no thanks
      September 1, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      You lost me in your second paragraph. Huh???

  • Maggie the Cat
    August 31, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    I’m with Major Godin on this one.

  • Sequenque
    August 31, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I want to believe that TB has gone slightly rational and compassionate to try to understand the ‘hippie’ demographic, but my senses tell me I’m not buying it. Somebody run a case study and see if TB is still this soft if (after) his buddy Mike Gaffney becomes mayor… I don’t want to say it, but this sounds nothing like TB, unless the hippies found his hideout and took over his computer. I sense political promo pr tactic somehow…

  • Publius
    August 31, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    TB should be facialized for this crap piece.

  • Publius
    August 31, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    Petty Boone gotta go. North High is an utter wasteland under their watch. Major Godin is heroic for going public.

  • Tngsucks
    August 31, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Just make him apologize and put him back to work. Maybe some diversity training. I’ll say pretty much anything and thus guy crossed a line I wouldn’t go near.

  • Do what?
    August 31, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    This the definition of a crapshoot. The Major is sticking with his ideals and not backing down from what took place, just as most men of high character will do. TB’s main premise is also correct, you just can’t say shit like that in the presence of the public school “brass.” That being said, we’re living in a time where kids get thrown out of school for gun shaped Pop Tarts and Superwoman lunch boxes. It is unrealistic to operate under the assumption that the Major’s opinion wasn’t going to cause a shit storm.

    Regardless, the major was dead on and the fact that they’re stringing him along, is garbage. Let the guy defend himself so he can either move on or resume his duties in the WPS- God knows they need all the help they can get from high character individuals.

  • Devils Mouthpiece
    August 31, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    The major is 100% correct and TB, your are wrong and losing it. Going soft of thugs are we?

  • Wrong here
    August 31, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    You are wrong here TB.

  • Chris From Georgia
    August 31, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    The Major is correct and TB is wrong,

  • bob
    August 31, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Wrong or right, they shouldn’t leave him in limbo. Was he harsh? Yes, but he stood behind his opinion. Maybe if more people in authority were blunt, less kids would be choosing this lifestyle. I’m sorry i was raised on saying like “you weep what you sow”. Bottom line, they’re punishing him for going against Dyer.

  • Pshhhhh
    August 31, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Disagree with you TB. It’s like when Dyer told Janice Harvey that ‘colorblind’ beliefs are racist! It’s his belief and his opinion-this should not cost him his job. North high needs more non PC bullshit! HOW can WPS employ a principal like Carenza Jackson and back her up when someone like this with an unbelievable track record gets shit on.

  • Hob Nob
    August 31, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    TB, you just took the Dyer viewpoint that the major should curb his free speech and tow the line.

    • jbinkowski
      August 31, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      For shame TB, for shame!

  • diddlin
    August 31, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Yeah, it’s hard to word his opinion. He’s an older guy who’s seen a lot and dealt with a lot of bullshit. Maybe his tipping point was being asked to donate money to support punks. I know if I had 20-30 years under my belt dealing with death and asshole kids, I’d probably snap. He was better off in a school position when kids had more respect. I’d say now is his time to leave. The school world isn’t what he knows anymore and he’s not going to be PC enough for it. He’ll surely be able to find better work. I’m not sure why he settled for the Worcester Public Schools to begin with.

  • fattydaddy
    August 31, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    TB, This guy is from an era of Values & Respect! He does not have to put up with the crap these kids dish out, their disrespect starts right at home. Good for him, you’re starting to become soft.

  • Areyouserious?
    August 31, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    TB I got to say you’re wrong on this one. The Major was 100% correct and shouldn’t have been punished at all. If the kid was a punk when he was alive then you don’t have to say nice things about him after he died. People close to him won’t like to hear it but sometimes the truth hurts. Also, there definitely are high school kids that are too far gone and not worth saving. I mean look at what’s gone on in the city this summer. Most of the incidents in loved teenagers or kids in their early 20’s. I have to say I agree with the Major again. If they were all given the lethal injection the city would be better off.

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