Fifth-grade boy is punished for calling his teacher ‘ma’am.’ Parents take it to the press.

Once upon a time teachers used to complain about students who behaved like rotten little monsters. These days some teachers instead have taken to kvetching about students who behave like gentlemen.

Take students like Tamarion, a 10-year-old North Carolina boy who got in trouble at his Tarboro preparatory school after he had the audacity to refer to his teacher as “ma’am.” Oh, the utter horror.

According to his parents, they learned of his wicked crime when he returned home from school this Tuesday afternoon with a look of shame and disappointment on his face.

“I asked him what happened. He said he got in trouble for saying ‘yes ma’am,'” Tamarion’s mother, Teretha Wilson, explained to local station WTVD.

The teacher then forced the poor child to fill the front and back side of a sheet of notebook paper with the word “ma’am” as punishment and demanded he get the sheet signed by his parents.


Sadly, this is not a joke or a prank. It’s real life, though there’s a somewhat reasonable explanation for why Tamarion’s unnamed teacher punished him for calling her ma’am: Because she’d repeatedly instructed the class to not call her ma’am.

Why then did the polite child continue calling his teacher ma’am? One, his parents had taught him to always treat his elders with the utmost respect. And two, there’s a strong possibility Tamarion had forgotten being told not to say ma’am.

Last month he’d been hospitalized for seizure-related symptoms, including memory loss and hallucinations. In fairness to the teacher, she hadn’t known this. But in fairness in Tamarion, how common is it for a teacher to complain about students being polite?

The irony is that whereas Tamarion has always acted politely with his teacher, she hasn’t always acted politely with him. According to his mother, during the incident Tuesday, his teacher told him that “if she had something, she would have thrown it at him.”

“It wasn’t right. It wasn’t professional. As a teacher, it wasn’t appropriate. And I asked her why she thought it was okay to do that,” Wilson said, referencing a meeting she and the boy’s father had with the teacher Wednesday.

During the meeting the teacher claimed she’d just been joking about throwing something. She also handed Tamarion’s mother another punishment sheet. This one contained the definition of ma’am repeated over and over again.

Frustrated by the inanity of this whole situation, Tamarion’s parents asked the principal to relocate him to another class. Thankfully, the principal complied. While they’re glad about that, they’re confident this isn’t the last they’ll hear about their son’s former teacher.

“If it happened to my son, I’m pretty sure if not a week, a day, a month, a year, it will occur to somebody else’s child,” Tamarion’s father, McArthur Bryant, said.


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Vivek Saxena


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