Nancie Atwell is a teacher from Edgecomb who founded the Center for Teaching and Learning, has written nine books about education and was awarded what has been called the 'Nobel Prize for Teaching', which included a one million dollar prize. Last month Atwell allegedly shoplifted a blouse worth $14.99 from Reny's in Damariscotta. For the charges to be dismissed over the white blouse, Atwell must stay out of trouble for two years, undergo a psychological evaluation, complete 100 hours of community service AND prove that she has donated her one million dollars in prize money to her school! Shoplifting is wrong, but giving up a one million dollar prize that she earned because of a fifteen dollar shirt from Reny's is beyond excessive in my opinion. Shoplifting is a complicated crime, not everyone does it out of financial necessity. Psychology Today offers some insight. Sure, a psychological evaluation and community service are in order. Honestly, this is her private demon and I feel badly that all of her years of dedication to teaching have been stripped away over a shirt. Who else would have been offered this deal? If someone gets caught stealing a candy bar will charges be dismissed if they give up their car?! At this point the damage to her reputation has already been done; I say take your licks for a terrible mistake and face what has to be a lesser punishment if convicted of shoplifting a shirt. We all make mistakes, but Nancie Atwell has done more good in this world than many of us will ever have, or make, the chance to do! I get it, "What message does a teacher shoplifting send?" Well, it sends the message that none of us are perfect, that second chances and forgiveness of ourselves as well as others is a lesson in itself.

Does the punishment fit the crime? On top of community service, probation and a psychological evaluation, should Atwell also give up her one million dollar teaching prize?


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