Kevin Bean is one of the good guys. For the past 14 years, he’s been a beloved fifth- and sixth-grade teacher in the Spring-Ford School District. He’s counseled students who were bullied and teased, who’d lost a parent, who needed a friend. But like so many people these days, Bean had a side hustle, as a professional wrestler known as “Blitzkreig, the German Juggernaut” who entered the ring waving an Iron Cross flag, throwing Nazi salutes and shouting “Sieg Heil!” And no matter how you feel about free speech, that’s … not a good look for a man who’s admired and looked up to by kids of tender age.
Earlier this month, the district investigated Bean’s extracurricular activity and announced it found no violations of district policies; no discipline would be imposed, and he’d remain a teacher in good standing. But at Monday night’s school board meeting, the president of Spring Ford’s Education Association read a statement by Bean in which he apologized for “the pain and discomfort this character has brought people” and stated, “I do not believe in or support the philosophies of anti-Semitism or hatred in any way.” He then said of Blitzkreig, “[T[his character no longer exists, nor will he reappear at any point in the future.” It seemed the logical way to bring an end to a controversy that had pitted parents and kids who support Bean against those who were concerned about the example his character set (“character” and “character” being easily confused in these reality-TV days). School superintendent David Goodin noted that the debate had “opened up a dialogue about diversity and moved issues of race and diversity to the forefront” in the district. Sometimes the most valuable lessons are the ones we don’t expect to learn.