Natalie Munroe: A Tale of a Teacher in a Digital Age
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?”
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.