The Beacon
RSS Feed

Teacher Colman McCarthy Leaves Wilson After 30 Years

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.22.55 PM



Social Issues teacher Colman McCarthy ended his 30 years of teaching at Wilson abruptly last December. Midway through the second advisory, he stopped attending his class and was replaced by his son.

McCarthy was told by an administrator in December that the spring semester of his class Social Issues would be cancelled. According to McCarthy, the information was conveyed in a hallway and he was not given an explanation, suggestion, or thanks for his time at Wilson. “It was a shabby moment, and a total lack of class on the part of the administrator.” He then decided to not finish the second advisory due to desire for a break; his son John finished teaching the remaining weeks of the course.

McCarthy has taught classes preaching non-violence at Wilson since the 1980s. He also taught or currently teaches non-violence classes at School Without Walls, Georgetown University Law Center, American University, and the University of Maryland.

The Social Issues class that McCarthy taught was part of the Humanities Arts and Media (HAM) Academy. To reach a higher level of academic rigor, McCarthy asked for only students in the HAM academy to be allowed to enroll in his class. “Placing non-Academy students into an Academy dilutes the intellectual climate of the class, which is a disservice to the those who, for whatever reason, had a right to be there among other HAM students and were not in the class because they were ordered to. It’s a disservice, too, to the non-Academy students who most likely need remedial help which they won’t get in an Academy class.”

This request for only Academy students was denied repeatedly by Wilson administration. “There is not a teacher in this school who can request that,” Assistant Principal Linda Wanner said. “If [a teacher] gets a student they don’t like, they still have to teach them.”

McCarthy expressed gratitude for his experiences at Wilson. He recently completed a book called “Teaching Peace: Students Exchange Letters With Their Teacher,” which contains many pages about Wilson students. McCarthy stated in an email that, “I’ve had countless students at Wilson that I cherished, and always will—for their idealism, their openness to taking risks on behalf of peacemaking, their appreciation of being taken seriously and not being processed like slabs of cheese going to Velveeta High School.”