EDUCATION

Tooele teacher’s tattoos, classroom habits criticized in anonymous letter

Aug 20, 2022, 5:20 PM | Updated: 6:55 pm

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah — A Utah teacher is responding to an anonymous letter that was critical of his tattoos.

Aaron Pratt said he got the letter with no return address sent to his school Tuesday. In it, the writer asks him to cover his tattoos, stay out of the front office, and not discuss divorce with his students.

“I don’t know how you can be a teacher and stay out of the front office?” Pratt said. “And, not talking about divorce? First off, I don’t really talk about my own divorce because it was over ten years ago. If I talk about divorce personally, it’s because I married into my children.”

Pratt said his children attend the same school he works at, and his relation with them can come up in conversation. He said it’s also a topic affecting many students’ family lives.

As for the tattoo, Pratt said he has multiple, but they’re hidden. He admits his most recent addition is attention-getting, but it’s one he put a lot of thought into.

“The butterfly being a symbol of new life and rebirth, the teal and purple are the suicide prevention colors, the semicolon is a symbol used in a suicide prevention community,” he explained.

Pratt said there’s a larger issue he wants to address, one bigger than his ink.

“The positive that can come from it is awareness and understanding to the public of what we teachers have to deal with behind the scenes,” he explains.

Pratt wrote a response to the letter writer on his Facebook page.

“I harbor no ill will toward whoever it is who wrote this letter, that wasn’t my purpose for sharing it,” he said. “I just wanted to get the word out…. if what I’m doing, if my share on Facebook, or if talking with you helps even one parent decide to handle a situation in a different way, it was worth it.”

Pratt asked parents and guardians to be kind to teachers in his post.

“Big news headlines about the teacher shortage and the teacher crisis… there’s not a shortage of qualified teachers to teach,” he said. “There’s a shortage of respect for the profession. ”

He ended his post with, “Hug a teacher today.” He said children are always watching how adults treat each other.

“Our kids are going to see how we act and how we behave,” Pratt said. “They’re going to do what we do.”

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Tooele teacher’s tattoos, classroom habits criticized in anonymous letter