Mayo students irked by penalty for teacher who swore

Students at Rochester’s Mayo High School have taken to social media today to protest the apparent disciplining of a teacher who dropped an “F bomb” in class.

They’ve organized a “Free Thorson” campaign on Twitter to build support for Jon Thorson, an English and speech teacher at the school.

“Mr Thorson had assigned our class a speech to persuade and had given us 1-2 weeks in the lab to work on it,” Sara Caflisch, a junior, said in an email this morning.

After the two weeks were up, he first had students volunteer to present and eventually drew names once the volunteers had finished. After one week of presentations had passed, students started skipping class in order to avoid giving their speeches. Two particular students had been showing up for one week after the day that they were supposed to present and insisted that they were not ready.

Students skipping class and two students showing up unprepared led to days of watching movies. Mr. Thorson had already had to eliminate one speech due to the lack of time left in the year. As any educator would agree, Mr Thorson was just trying to due his job and fulfill requirements of the class set by the state.

She said in a moment of frustration, Thorson said the situation was “****ing ridiculous,” a comment that got back to the school’s administrators.

Shortly after the incident last Monday, Thorson disappeared from the school.

“Over a week later he has yet to come back while in the meantime we have had countless substitutes who of no fault of their own have nothing prepared to do during the class period. We have spent the last week watching movies and completing irrelevant worksheets,” she said.

Personally, I have never seen a teacher so loved and having had so much support in his returning. Mr. Thorson has done nothing but given me helpful feedback and to how to improve myself as a public speaker as well as worked extra with me to complete an out of class assignment. Mr Thorson’s continued love of his job and desire to see his students succeed has been shown through the school wide campaign of #freethorson in hopes of his quick return. As I recently read on Twitter last night, “If someone said something every time a teacher swore, we would have no teachers.”

A message left today with the principal at Mayo High School has not yet been returned, but school officials in Minnesota are generally not allowed to comment on personnel matters under the state’s Data Privacy Act.

“The students and faculty of Mayo all know that what he did was wrong and we don’t condone his actions,” junior Hannah Baratz said today. “However, Thorson was loved by the Mayo Conmunity, even by the students who never had him. I had speech with him last fall for one semester and he still knows my name and asks how my swimming ‘career’ is going.”

He is in charge of the prom committee and is a very relaxed teacher all together. To get him upset, you would have to go too far, which is what the freshman who reported him did. It is not fair how 14-18 year olds can swear like truckers to each other and a young, 30 year old man can’t say something negative about a ridiculous situation. We all love Thorson and are willing to support him through all of this.

“Basically, he’s the kind of teacher that we should be working hard to save, not throwing away over a terrible lapse in judgement,” a parent said.

No doubt the state is full of teachers who might like to swear at the class. But it’s also one of the cardinal rules of teaching kids. You just can’t.