Natalie Munroe: A Tale of a Teacher in a Digital Age

The Central Bucks East teacher who was suspended for blogging about her students is trying to change education—one blog post at a time

Natalie Munroe strolled into Central Bucks East the morning of February 9th as if it were any other Wednesday. As she wove her way through the Doylestown high school where she’d taught English for nearly five years, she noticed two teachers whispering to each other in the hall. They looked frantic. She kept walking.

“Something’s going on,” she thought. “I’ll ask them about it later.” After the first bell rang, she headed to the planning center, where she’d prep for her classes that day. But before she started working, another teacher came to the door and motioned Munroe over.

“Everyone’s talking about it,” the teacher fretted. “The students found your blog.”

“They found my blog?” Munroe asked, startled by the panic in her colleague’s voice. She quickly tried to recall the posts she’d written; not one raised a red flag. At most, she figured she’d have to answer some awkward questions, that people would talk about it for a while. And then everyone would move on. “Whatever,” she thought.

Even so, she opened her school computer, logged onto Blogger.com and promptly took down the blog. But a few minutes later, when she saw the school secretary in the doorway—sent by principal Abe Lucabaugh to collect her—she went numb.

Walking into Lucabaugh’s office, she spotted them immediately—her blog posts, printed out and stacked on his desk.

“Did you write these?” Lucabaugh asked, stern-faced and solemn.

“Yes,” she answered.

“Did you write them at school?”

“No.”

Lucabaugh then read a sentence from one post out loud: “I’m being a renegade right now, living on the edge and, um, blogging at work.”

“Look,” Munroe said, “if it says that, I guess I did. I’m telling you I didn’t routinely sit here and write blogs at school. Like, ever.”

“We can find out,” Lucabaugh warned. He explained that she’d be suspended with pay while the school investigated, then followed her to her office, where she gathered her belongings. She handed him a pile of photocopies.

“I just made these. They’re for the third block,” she explained; she didn’t want her students to fall behind because of this little snafu.

Lucabaugh led her into the hallway as students filtered to their next class. Munroe saw one of her students walking toward her.

“Oh,” the student cracked, “that sucks, Mrs. Munroe.”

WEEKS LATER, NATALIE MUNRO sits in a Panera Bread in Feasterville that isn’t her usual Panera Bread (too many students hang out there). Nine months pregnant, she is tired and huge and eating a salad, wishing the baby would come out already so she’d have something positive to focus on. It hasn’t been an easy month, and frankly, she can’t believe it all went down the way it did.

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  • Tad

    Ready for a brave, new, and wildly unique teacher’s journal? One that’s deeply thoughtful, literate, and downright funny? Then enjoy A Dixie Diary, at http://www.adixiediary.com.

    The response from readers all over the world has been astonishing. Actually debuting during the midst of the Natalie Munroe business, this unique online journal shows a different look at what happens in the schoolhouse by a rookie special education teacher who loves his work and his students, but he expresses his thoughts and observations in a hugely different way than Mrs. Munroe. Sure, there are some intense student-teacher moments, even some choice words, too, but mostly it’s world-class hilarious and heartwarming … like reading a good book.

    It’s the look at a teacher’s madcap classroom world we’ve been waiting for. It’s simply mesmerizing.

  • Mary

    Most teachers encounter resistance from students, whether it’s apathy or obstinance, whether it’s done publicly or privately. Most teachers have sounding boards to vent frustrations to: spouses, co

  • Jeff

    Natalie Munroe displayed disastrously poor judgment, gross immaturity and–perhaps most damning–a startlingly low level of web-savviness. (Teachers should know at least as much as their students do.) By the time this is all over, she’s likely to have become an expert in only one thing: the laws governing libel and invasion of privacy.

  • Frank

    Your comment is one of a knee jerk reaction to a limited amount of information. Did you read the original blog? How can someone be held accountable for “libel, invasion of pri” when NO NAMES were mentioned, NO SCHOOL was mentioned, and it was ANONYMOUS! Get your facts straight!

  • Frank

    Your comment is one of a knee jerk reaction to a limited amount of information. Did you read the original blog? How can someone be held accountable for “libel, invasion of pri” when NO NAMES were mentioned, NO SCHOOL was mentioned, and it was ANONYMOUS! Get your facts straight!

  • Jeff

    It does not matter whether specific names were mentioned. What matters is that the targets of her vitriol were easily identifiable. Everyone in the school quickly knew who she was talking about. Not naming names is no protection.

  • Jeff

    Read this all the way through: http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation. “To state a defamation claim, the person claiming defamation need not be mentioned by name—the plaintiff only needs to be reasonably identifiable.”

  • Jeff

    Go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation Web site. Search for: Online Defamation Law

  • Jennifer

    It’s a shame, since she posted this, the only thing she should be punished for is admitting she posted one of her blogs online at school. Otherwise, she is no more at fault than the children. This

  • Jennifer

    students referred to her as comparable to the holocaust…watching your parents and siblings being slaughtered in front of you? really? Grow up. This is our future, maybe in a few weeks? What a sc

  • teddy

    cant believe we cant read the blogs?