Raemon Matthews, a nationally regarded history teacher at Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx, has been barred from the classroom for sexual wrongdoing involving students.
An investigation by the New York City Department of Education found that Matthews intimidated a 17-year-old female student into posing for explicit photos in a classroom cage that was used for storage. The educator was found to have engaged the teen in inappropriate activities, including fondling her breasts and private areas as well as posing for the photos under the pretense of attracting college recruiters and employers. Matthews has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse.
The teen reportedly attempted to stop the sessions once, was afraid he would hurt or fail her.
Matthews also encouraged the student to look sexier, and he had to see more of the scantily clad teen for the supposed college portfolio. The wrongdoings surfaced in late 2010 when a custodian found the photos on a CD.
News of the scandal come especially as a surprise as Matthews had been working in New York City schools since 2000, and was nationally known for his methods and effective teaching. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige praised the educator during a visit to the school in 2002, resulting in a trip to the capital for Matthews to demonstrate his interdisciplinary lessons and use of multimedia in the classroom.
Matthews’ employment of brain exercises and memory tools has also received national acclaim. A 2008 Associated Press report points to the educator as an example for improving student performance through memorization techniques, as an overwhelming majority of Matthews’ students at the predominantly low-income, minority school regularly pass the global and history geography state exams.