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Treasured Teachers: Mrs. Carter from Perry Township

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Teachers in Indiana work hard. It’s one of the biggest understatements you can say but every year some districts see a drop in teacher retention, stagnating salaries and wonderful educators leaving the calling to use their skills in another industry. 

Thursday on Daybreak, reporter Brenna Donnelly sought to honor one excellent local teacher for being exactly that, an excellent, treasured teacher. 

She didn’t have to travel far; she found Mrs. Kerri Carter in a first-grade classroom inside Douglas McArthur Elementary School in Perry Township. 

“Mrs. Carter is all heart for the kids,” said fellow first-grade teacher Angie Merder. “She is loving. She cares about them as a person.” 

Our news crew went to Douglas McArthur Elementary to learn what we could about Mrs. Carter without her knowing. We met with her class in the library and got to hear from fellow teachers and students about what makes Mrs. Carter such an impactful teacher. 

“I just want to read this to Mrs. Carter,” said Adrian, one of her students, as he held a hand-written nomination letter in his hands. “Mrs. Carter is the best.” 

“First she helps me,” said another student, reading off her paper. 

“She is nice and she helps me with math,” smiled another. 

“I think Mrs. Carter is a nice teacher,” another echoed. 

“She always makes every day good,” said a student. 

“She wears pretty dresses,” said a boy with his nose pressed to his letter. 

“I like the mistakes she makes and my class laughs,” grinned Adrian. 

Merder says the proof of Mrs. Carter’s diligence with the students is evident in their love not only for her, but for learning. She says that requires a lot on the part of Mrs. Carter.

“Patience. Some ability to get down on their level,” she said. “and just developing their personality traits. Good morals and values and trying to model those so these 6-year-olds can mimic them.” 

We gathered all the video clips of students and prepared to surprise Mrs. Carter in class a few days later. 

“Is this Mrs. Carter’s class? First grade? At Douglas McArthur Elementary?” Brenna Donnelly asked, walking in the classroom with two cameras rolling. 

Mrs. Carter looked dumbfounded but replied that it was. Brenna pointed at the group of eager students.

“They wanted to honor you as a great teacher on the news today, so we wanted to surprise you and let you know how much they love you, and how much we appreciate all that you’re doing for first-grade students,” Brenna said. “But we have another surprise for you.” 

Our team sat Mrs. Carter down and played the video of student letters, and as the students cheered, grinned, and spoke her praises, she became emotional 

“‘I’m very overwhelmed. I’m very touched. That kind of brings it all together of why I do this,” Mrs. Carter said. “It’s just made my world.” 

The school’s principal, Star Hardimon, said Mrs. Carter deserves every ounce of this recognition. 

“Year after year I have kids wanting to come back to the school and see her,” she said, noting a difference in students who have been through her classroom. “They’re very confident, they care about others and are so compassionate with each other.” 

As an exceptional teacher with 29 years of experience in first grade, we gave Mrs. Carter an opportunity to share advice or encouragement to her fellow teachers. She advised balance in your life, but an undying pursuit to do what’s in your soul. 

“After retirement, I will find other avenues to touch lives. It’s just something that was instilled in me. Both my parents were educators and so I, that’s just what I’ve seen. That’s just my calling as well,” she said through tears. 

We honor your Mrs. Kerri Carter, and thank you for your service and love for the students of Perry Township.

If you want to honor a teacher as one of WISH-TV’s Treasured Teachers, email Brenna Donnelly at or tell her about your nomination on Facebook

WEST POINT, Va. (WRIC) — The school board for West Point Public Schools voted unanimously on Thursday to approve the termination of a teacher at West Point High School who was at the center of a transgender controversy at the school. 

Peter Vlaming, a French teacher at the school, was put on paid administrative leave on Oct. 31 for not using a student’s preferred identity pronoun. 

Several people, including Vlaming, spoke during the public hearing on Thursday. 

“My religious faith dictates that I am to love and respect everyone, whether I agree with them or not. Because we are all made in God’s image,” Vlaming said, reading from a prepared opening statement. 

“I am also aware of, and agree, with speech limits that are placed on public school teachers, concerning matters of religious faith. I represent the state in my role as a public school teacher and therefore speak with a certain authority. That authority is not to be used to promote any one specific worldview, and I don’t. However, we are here today because a specific worldview is being imposed upon me,” he continued.  

The school board of West Point Public Schools approved the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate Vlaming at the end of the hearing.  

Superintendent Laura Abel shared a statement with WRIC about the decision to terminate Vlaming:

“The School Board has policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. As detailed during the course of the public hearing, Mr. Vlaming was recommended for termination due to his insubordination and repeated refusal to comply with directives made to him by multiple WPPS administrators. As superintendent, it is my responsibility to enforce board policy, and due to Mr. Vlaming’s non-compliance I therefore recommended termination.

Given the potential for further litigation, we will limit any additional comments to what was presented at the hearing.” 

WRIC reached out to the school earlier in the week for comment but West Point Public Schools cited the incident as “a personnel issue” and declined to respond about the status of Vlaming’s case. 

Students told WRIC that Vlaming won’t use male pronouns for a student who now identifies as a boy. 

Vlaming’s lawyer tells WRIC, “My client respects this student’s rights; he is simply asking that his rights be respected as well.”

An online petition supporting Mr. Vlaming, which is titled “Don’t terminate Mr. Vlaming,” has over 1,000 signatures. The petition quotes Vlaming on his thoughts on the incident: 

“I won’t use male pronouns with a female student that now identifies as a male though I did agree to use the new masculine name but avoid female pronouns. Administration is requiring that I use masculine pronouns in any and every context at school. I was informed that any further instances of using female pronouns would be grounds for termination.”

On Tuesday, WRIC spoke with a West Point High School student who says he is also supporting Vlaming. 

“I’m just outraged about it,” said Forrest Rohde, a West Point High School junior. “He’s a really nice guy, he wanted to do everything about his students. He really does care about his students. The thing he will not do is change his ways of thoughts and believing in things just to conform to someone else’s ideologies.”  

Vlaming reportedly called a transgender student “she,” but the student wants to be identified as a male.

“The transgender girl has the right to be whatever she wants but just because she has the right doesn’t mean we’re not obliged to follow her beliefs,” Rohde said. 

Rohde posted signs all over the school in support of the teacher after hearing Vlaming was put on administrative leave. The signs read: “Facts don’t care about your feelings,” “#Justice for Vlaming,” and “Mr. Vlaming is innocent.” 

“I see this stuff on the news far away from here,” Rohde said, “but when it hits close to home and someone’s free speech is being violated, I have to step in and say something about it.”

The school confirmed to WRIC on Dec. 4 that Vlaming was put on paid administrative leave and that Vlaming requested a public hearing:

Mr. Vlaming is currently on paid administrative leave, and West Point Public Schools has followed and will continue to follow Virginia Code and all local policies and procedures relating to licensed staff members. The grievance process, including the purpose/results of a hearing, is governed by Virginia Code. Here is a link for you:

Because this is a personnel issue, we are unable to provide specific information due to employee and student confidentiality. Mr. Vlaming has requested a public hearing and details regarding our recommendations will become public at that hearing. Until that time, it is important that we not only ensure the integrity of our employment process but also meet our responsibilities regarding safeguarding student confidentiality.

                                              – Abel Laura, West Point Public Schools superintendent 

A family friend of the transgender student told WRIC the family is remaining strong and acknowledged that this is a difficult time for all parties involved.

“The family is a strong one and the child is being supported in paving the way for other trans children that may come after him,” the family friend said in a statement to WRIC. “He has remained calm and respectful and this is a hard time for the teacher and the student.”

Legal analyst Russ Stone told WRIC that it’s uncertain whether or not the school has grounds to fire Vlaming.

Vlaming’s lawyer also tells WRIC, “Public schools have no business compelling people to express ideological beliefs that they don’t hold. This isn’t just about a pronoun; this is about forcing someone to endorse an ideology under threat of losing his job. That’s neither legal nor constitutional.”