Greensboro dad says 8th-grade son asked to create Twitter account; insulted by teacher’s note

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Arik Griffith says his 13-year-old son mentioned something that caught him by surprise when he came home from school Monday.

“He said ‘Dad, one of my teachers said I need a Twitter account,’" Griffith said.

Griffith's son is an eighth grader at Southeast Guilford Middle School.

He says his son's science teacher asked students to sign up for the social media website on the first day of class.

"I said ‘Twitter? What do you need a twitter account for?" Griffith said.

Griffith, a father of two, doesn't allow his children to have cell phones or social media accounts until they're at least 15 years old or have started high school.

"My children do not have access to social media until I allow them to," he said.

He asked his son to have his teacher send a note home, explaining why he needed a Twitter account.

The next day he got a handwritten note on a loose sheet of notebook paper which reads, “Please allow to get Twitter.” The note also included the teacher’s last name but didn’t give an explanation.

Griffith says he felt insulted.

"Really?” he asked. “Did your teacher write this? Your teacher?"

"What kind of parent does she think I am that I would accept this?" Griffith said.

A spokesperson for Guilford County Schools says the school district sent a letter home to parents and shared information at an open house last Thursday, encouraging students and parents to join Twitter to have access to school resources at all times.

Joining was encouraged but not required, according to district officials.

Griffith says he never got any correspondence.

Karen Burress, the principal of Southeast Guilford Middle School, sent this statement to FOX 8:

"Our intention was to use social media as a medium to discuss classroom information and answer questions about assignments. However, we understand that parents may have concerns, which is why participation was and is not mandatory.

We encourage our teachers and students to be responsible digital citizens."

Below is the letter school officials say went home to parents and was shared at last Thursday’s open house:

Dear Students and Parents,

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year at Southeast Middle School. We are so excited to have you as a part of our 8th grade, Cape Lookout Team. We want to share some team information with you so that you are prepared to have a successful year.

Your four core content teachers- with their contact information is:
Mrs. Connie Stone SCIENCE (stonec@gcsnc.com)
Mrs. Christan Hickman LANGUAGE ARTS (hickmac2@gcsnc.com )
Mr. Joe Henderson, MATH (henderj2@gcsnc.com)
Mr. Tyrelle Lee SOCIAL STUDIES (leet@gcsnc.com)

The grading scale Team Lookout will follow is that of SEMS and GCS, which is as follows:
A = 90 -100
B = 80 - 89
C = 70 - 79
D = 60 - 69
F = 0 - 59

Cape Lookout will be a digital team this year with the help of our new Lenovo Laptops. There are a few main platforms that we will be using this year in order for students to receive, view, read, complete tasks, collaborate on projects, research, and send student work back to the teacher. These platforms are Canvas and OneNote.

Additionally, we will be implementing many apps, such as: Flipboard, Pinterest, Evernote, Livebinder, Symbaloo, Animoto, TodaysMeet, Poetry, GoAnimate, and Posterous, just to name a few. Students will have a choice of which apps they choose to use for assignments and projects.

There's also a variety of ways to get updates on grades and assignments from classes this year. The following are some ways you will be able to keep up with this information: Grades: Parent Portal and Student Portal in PowerSchool. Assignments: Teachers Webpages, Teachers Twitter Accounts, Team Facebook Page, and the School Facebook.

What’s more important is that we will be providing a Personalized Learning Environment for all students, where they will be given the opportunity to access information in the way they learn best, using digital or hard copy resources of their choosing, and in a place where they will be able to thrive. We will be Flipping the lessons so that students can watch or read the background information in their free time (home or tutoring sessions) and come into class ready to engage in hands on activities and discussions in order to apply the knowledge they gained through the “Flipped” lesson.

Since we will be taking considerable time to develop creative and personalized lessons for our students, we do expect students to work hard both at home and in class in order to learn the material and to stay on task. As such, our team wide expectations and consequences are as follows:

EXPECTATIONS
We encourage our students to "soar" through 8th grade this year.
Here is a review of our S.O.A.R. Expectations:

S– Self Control
• Follow directions
• Use good listening skills
• Complete all of your work
• Stay on task

O– Operate Safely
• Keep your hands, feet and objects to yourself
• Wait for instructions
• Use materials appropriately
• Stay in assigned area

A– Act Responsibly
• Come to school prepared
• Follow class rules
• Keep room/area clean
• Follow dress code

R– Respect Yourself & Others
• Speak kindly to others
• Take turns
• Use good manners
• Respect opinions of others

CONSEQUENCES
First Offense – Warning
Second Offense – Teacher/student conference; possible loss of privilege.
Third Offense – Student reflection and note sent home
Fourth Offense – Phone call and conference requested
Fifth Offense – Office Referral
*Fighting- automatic Office Referral

SUPPLY LIST
There are many supplies that your child will need to have this year: paper, pens, pencils, pencil sharpener, index cards, a three ringed binder, colored pencils, markers, sharpies, and a highlighter. Other supplies that will be a huge help to each classroom will be: Puff Plus (tissues with lotion), Paper Towels, Clorox Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, Ziploc Baggies (all sizes). Team Lookout appreciates any help you could give on the “other supplies” as well.

Parents and students, since we will be a digital team we encourage (this is not mandatory) you and your child to create Twitter accounts so that you can have access to us and our resources at all times. This will enable you to ask questions, request resources, reflect and make comments as well as allow us to answer your questions and comments with immediacy in an effective and direct manner. If you need help creating an account, step by step instructions can be sent home to you in order to help you create your account.

Our twitter handles are as follows:
@Stone_SEMS, @Henderson_SEMS, Lee_SEMS, Hickman_SEMS

Please follow our 8th Grade Administrator as well, his handle is as follows:
@Conaway_SEMS

We are truly thrilled to have you as a part of the Cape Lookout Team and we know that together, we can overcome any obstacle and have a very successful year. We look forward to working with you all this year.

Cape Lookout Team