Teachers see the troublemakers first. Fortunately, most grow up to be normal people. But not everyone! These stories highlight the worst students teachers had, the ones that were and are unredeemable.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
Almost Worse Than Murder
“I teach at a community college where we have a program that allows high school students to take college-level courses. One semester, I had a group of promising high schoolers in a 3D modeling class, and one student blew me away right from the start. Less than a week in, he had made this model of Claptrap from the ‘Borderlands’ game series that was so detailed and perfect that it looked like it was ripped right from the game’s assets. I could tell right away that this kid was going places.
He wasn’t in class the following week. After missing a certain number of days, I was obligated to call his school to let him know he was at risk of being dropped. I would go on to learn that he was in jail. This student was apparently running a Twitter account where he publicly solicited and bribed people for child smut, with some of the kids being as young as 1 year old.”
Early Warning Signs
“A new boy was placed in my class. He had a twin sister in another class, and he was bright but quiet. He kept to himself and didn’t interact with other students.
On a Friday afternoon before the end of the day, he assaulted a younger girl in the school toilets. This younger girl looked just like his twin. It was MESSED UP. The school covered up the incident to avoid negative publicity, and to protect both kids’ identities. I am not sure if charges were pressed, and I was only made aware of it because I happened to be on site and near another senior staffer when she took the call and freaked out. I received a phone call the next day telling me not to discuss it.
I don’t know what happened to the boy or whether it was the first time such an incident had occurred. The student he assaulted moved, but then returned to school where she struggled with the incident. She chose to come back to the school herself. She had remained really good friends with a lot of the students (social media) and opted to return where she had support in place.”
His Words Were Chilling
“I volunteered a couple of times at an alternative school.
I was in a fourth-grade classroom and was tasked with helping a boy learn to read. It was basic stuff: cat, dog, ran, etc. He had a task to spell cat and dog, and couldn’t or wouldn’t try to see the difference. He said he’d never need to know how to read, so why should he? I told him I’d draw some pictures of what the words were next to the words so he could try to memorize them. He said something along the lines of, ‘If you try to make me do this, I’ll slit your throat and violate your corpse.’ Note, I am/was a 275-pound dude.
I told the teacher, who told me not to worry, that they check him daily to make sure he’s not carrying a knife since he’s had a few incidents. She’d also previously told me he wasn’t allowed pencils or pens and was only allowed to write with crayons due to his violent outbursts.
Not sure what happened to that kid, but I’m sure nothing good. “
He Just Snapped
“I was a substitute teacher at a secure facility in England.
We had one boy who was on trial for arson – nothing intentional; he flicked a smoke and it set fire to his neighbor’s car. He’d apparently had a few minor run-ins with the local police once or twice already, so he was pretty much a goner in terms of getting arrested for it.
The worst of the four students under our care, though, was a kid who had snapped. He came home one night when he was supposed to be staying at a friends house, to find his stepdad on top of his kid sister. He didn’t warn the guy what was about to happen; he just went to the garage, grabbed a hammer and went to town on him. He called the police himself. He never denied what he’d done but wasn’t proud of it, either. In his own words: ‘It just needed doing.’ That stayed with me. He wasn’t even with us because the prosecution was pushing for his incarceration, they wanted to see how badly he’d snapped and if he was a danger to himself or others.”
Bullied To The Edge
“While I was a student teacher, I taught a young man who planned a school shooting for the night of prom. He had weapons and intended to harm his classmates, but was arrested after he made some alarming comments. He seemed like a nice kid, but strange and withdrawn. He used to try to make jokes and witty comments, but was awkward and got shut down. Honestly, he was exactly what you imagine a kid who had been bullied but still tried to make friends would be like. I suspect he was on the spectrum as well, but never diagnosed.
I feel bad for him despite the terrible things he planned to do. His classmates ended up raising a sizable amount of money and donating it to mental health charities, and they eventually had their prom before the end of the school year. The student served six months in prison, and was given a few years of probation.”
The Deceptively Friendly Ones Are Often The Worst Ones
“I’ve taught a couple attempted murderers and quite a few major dealers, as well as students that would become accessories to murder.
The ones that truly gang-bang hard tend to be the sweetest ones. They’ll come up to me and ask if I enjoyed my spring break, answer questions in class, and defend me if students give me a hard time. Those ones are usually in too deep because the older heads tell them not to mess around at school and get as many positive character witnesses as possible when they end up getting caught up. The ones that just joined a gang of their friends and go around selling a little bit of weed act a fool in class because there’s no authority figure telling them the gang doesn’t need that kind of negative attention.
I’ve had smack dealers in class, and the three or four of them were so kind, but trying to find the human inside them was so hard because of the substance abuse. You want nothing more than to see them snap out of it, and sometimes they do; we had one of our most serious junkies graduate in December.
The ones who get to me the most are the ones that identify with me and then go out and do horrible things. I’m a younger guy that worked in the music industry, so I have a lot of kids that inherently think I’m cool despite tons of evidence to the contrary. I’ll know a kid for three years and love them to pieces, and then see them in the paper for aggravated assault. Those ones sting the most.”
The Family Business
“This one kid’s dad was in a bike gang. I worked with him for a year as a sophomore. He hated school, the system didn’t work for him and even though he acted out a lot and spent a lot of time suspended for smoking and getting into fights, we maintained a respectful relationship. He barely completed any work the year, but I was just glad he came to classes. I didn’t teach him again, but he always stopped for a chat and a bit of banter. He was adamant he didn’t want to follow in his dad’s footsteps and started a construction course where he really excelled. He had found something he was naturally talented at.
A few years after he had left the school he ended up working for his dad – both the actual business front and the illicit substances, weapons and rivalry part. He was stabbed to death in a deal gone bad. He was 19.
We had discussed the fact that he may end up in jail if he went into the family business – I never thought he wouldn’t make it to his 20th birthday.”
A Kid With Everything Loses It All
“I taught and advised a kid that went to jail for life for a murder he committed while still my student. This was a long time ago, way back in the ’90s. I was teaching at a prestigious private school with mostly rich kids and little trouble, and rarely – if ever – was a student arrested for anything more than minor in possession or maybe a little weed.
Not this guy. He was a senior and was a top-notch student. He had been accepted to an Ivy League school and had his whole life in front of him, but he had a crush on his best friend’s girlfriend and ended up killing his best friend over it. He forced the guy into his car and shot him in the face, then buried him in a shallow grave in a wooded area behind a mall. For weeks, people were searching for the victim, but it wasn’t until a dog that was out with his owner in the woods started digging and revealed the body that he was found.
My former student spent the previous weeks calling the girlfriend and asking her to join him to ‘look for [the victim].’ He would pick her up and they would drive to another park where the victim liked to hike.
Things quickly unraveled once the body was found, and he ended up pleading guilty about a year later and was sentenced to life without parole. He was 19 years old when he was sentenced, and he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.”
“They All Struggled To Fit In”
“I’ve taught four students who have been involved in murders. Three of those students killed one guy together, and the fourth shot and killed a person at a hotel party.
I worked at an alternative school, so they had behavioral issues. Only one of them struggled academically, but they were all class clowns. The one thing that sticks out is that they all struggled to fit in. They felt like they had something to prove. The three kids came in the day after they committed the murder, and you could tell something was off. Hard to articulate, but it was almost like the 1000 yard stare. They were probably reliving it all in their head and for a couple of them, it seemed remorseful in hindsight. They ended up leaving early, and we later heard what happened. The whole situation is still clear in my mind. It’s really messed up, but I used to teach in the poorest county in Maryland. Poverty brings with it a lot of issues.”
Three Tragic Cases
“I was a school teacher for 15 years. I have taught two murderers and a child abuser.
The first murderer was a young girl. She killed another student at a party. They had an altercation and the girl smashed a bottle and stabbed it into the victim’s neck, who bled out. This was in a small township, and the nearest services at that time of night were 45 minutes away. Her life was ruined in one stupid moment. I think she is out of prison, but I don’t know where she is. At school, she didn’t listen and she had a bad attitude. Her dad is a gang member, so she was raised to be ruthless.
The second was a cheeky but nice boy. If you treated him well, he would give you the same respect, but if you messed with him, that was it. He had a low tolerance, and he did not manage his anger well. He was always courteous to me, so it was sad to hear he killed an elderly man after the old man yelled at him. So senseless. He never had a chance.
The abuser was such a shock. He was a popular boy at school and was insanely talented. I never had an issue with him, so I was shocked he went to jail for possession of child smut.
He was found with pictures on his computer that connected him to an international operation. I think he just got caught up in a serious underground world, and now he’s paying the price. I’m not sure on how big of a part he played in it all.”
“I Screamed When I Saw His Mugshot On TV”
“I taught a student six years ago who recently committed a home invasion turned heinous double murder with two accomplices. They tortured and killed a middle-aged married couple, and came back all weekend, unnoticed, to loot their home (with the bodies still in the house).
Police have clear surveillance video. He had apparently just been released from jail too.
He was sheepish about his poor grades and not all that smart, I would go as far to say one of the most illiterate kids I encountered. He was always polite and respectful and even played on the basketball team, but he pretty clearly had no support from home. I screamed when I saw his mugshot on TV, I screamed.”
A Promising Life, Lost To The System
“One of my former students murdered two people, apparently on a deal gone wrong. He is now serving life in prison.
I had him in first grade. Sweet kid, highly intelligent. Seriously, he was reading on a third-grade level despite the fact that he came in late every day. Not just ten or fifteen minutes late, usually he would come in around 10:00. Dad was not in the picture (in prison for gang activity) and Mom was unconcerned about his education. I tried everything I could to impress on her just how intelligent her son was and how he had a very bright future but that he needed to be in school. She honestly didn’t seem to care. He later dropped out when he was in high school, joined a gang, and things snowballed.
Such a waste.”
Police Shoot Out
“I taught a sixth-grade boy who talked tough and ran a gang of bigger boys. He was a poor student, and the only thing he did well was athletics, but he wasn’t allowed on the teams because of bad grades.
His mother looked about my age and I was an undergraduate student teacher. I got that through word-of-mouth. I never met her because she’d cancel any parent-teacher meetings at the last minute. There were a lot of requests for these meetings. He had no father figure in his life and was a free-range kid in the worst sense. He couldn’t respect anyone more than two years older than him unless they were black or willing to throw down with him right there.
He knew how to manipulate people; he manipulated me. About 10 years later, I saw that he had dropped out of high school because to focus on his gang. Apparently, he shot some people in a condo, and was he killed in a police shootout.”
A Harsh Punishment For A Minor Crime Changes Everything
“I was working at a juvenile detention center, which was considered a ‘treatment’ center. We were not a facility that held major offenders.
One kid was in there for getting caught with some grass. He was in for three to six months, which was harsh for a first-time offender, but the judge was notorious for this kind of thing. We had kids from that area who were sent to us after skipping school a few times.
He was mellow and mature for his age. He liked to play card games. When the younger kids would be starting fights or bickering, he would always distance himself and remove himself from the situation.
A year after he left, he was caught trafficking serious amounts of narcotics. He was sentenced to 20 years for that and the various offenses that led to him getting caught.”
The Makings Of A Serial Killer
“When I first started working as the English teacher at a public elementary school in Tokyo, one of the teachers was telling me about how the class pet dwarf hamster Totoro had gotten out of his cage and accidentally been stepped on. He was a little guy, so it wasn’t exactly a bloody scene, but nobody knew who did it, and all the kids were sad.
A few weeks later, another class’s pet guinea pig ‘got out’ of his cage and was stepped on as well. Like, stomped flat. Someone had clearly used some tissues to clean off their shoes before leaving the room. All of the students wear the same kind of in-school slippers, so it’s not like we could figure it out by shoe print, but one of the other teachers noticed that one girl in her class, a fifth grader, had some suspicious reddish smears on the edges of one of her shoes. The girl was brought to the office, and parents were called.
The next day, the parents came in and explained to the principle that they were moving their daughter to another school. Basically, ‘she’s not your problem anymore, so don’t bother trying to call in child counselors or anything.’ So rather than make a big deal out of it all, the school let it all slide because the girl was gone.
A few years later, there was a local news story about a junior high girl who’d assaulted another student. It sounded like she pushed the other girl down some stairs and then kicked her. They didn’t publish names (she was a minor), but word traveled down the grapevine that it was our former student. I’m not sure what happened to her after that.”
He Did All He Could But It Still Wasn’t Enough
“I was close to a group of students. They were all in what they called the Fo-Deuce gang, a local chapter of the Crips. I took a particular interest in two of them and would have them over to my home for dinner once a week and would tutor them every day after school. I picked them up for school and dropped them off every day. I got them both jobs and drove them to work. They had violent backgrounds, but I trusted them. They were like my children before I had my own.
Unfortunately, things started going downhill with the older student. He stole a lot of valuables from my wife, then refused to acknowledge he had done anything wrong. I put up a boundary with him after that, and he stopped coming around as much and started walking to school again, which meant he didn’t go often.
The other student had a horrible home. No parents, a grandma that couldn’t take care of him, and his siblings were in jail or addicts. I offered to let him live with us for a few months. It sounds stupid, but that worked out. He never stole from us, he was grateful, his grades went up a bit, and he even got jumped out of his gang after I asked him to. It was a nice beginning.
About six months into him living with us, we were watching ‘The Office,’ and he was laughing hard at some joke, when all of a sudden, he stopped laughing, got this somber look, got up, went to his room, and wouldn’t talk to us. He got up the next morning and told us he wanted to move out. At first, he wouldn’t tell me why. After a while of pressing him, he said he felt guilty enjoying life while his sister had to live with his grandma. He felt he was ready to take care of her, and no amount of me trying to convince him that he had to take care of himself first would dissuade him. He moved out the following week.
After he graduated the next year, I changed schools and slowly lost contact with him.
About seven months ago, I got an e-mail from a lawyer. He told me that his client asked him to get in contact with me. It was this kid. He had been convicted of murder. He basically walked into a room, shot a guy he didn’t know, then walked out without robbing him.
I knew he had violent tendencies, but I saw a non-violent side of him who liked Michael Scott and cooking. I had hoped that the better angels of his nature would win out, but obviously, they didn’t.”