Instructor of Stuttering Student Defends Conduct

October 14, 2011

The instructor at the County College of Morris whose treatment of a student with a stutter was the subject of a front page article in The New York Times says that her treatment of the student has been portrayed unfairly. The original article -- which became the subject of much discussion -- said that the instructor told the student not to speak in class, and refused to call on him when his hand was up throughout a class session. In a new article, the instructor, Elizabeth Snyder, said she asked the student to limit his in-class questions because he was trying to respond throughout class. "He seemed to want to answer every question," she said, and "you’d have to take into consideration the amount of time he takes to get the answer out." Snyder said that "there was never any intent to stop him from speaking." On the day of the class session discussed in the original article, she said, she was trying to cover a lot of material in a limited amount of time, and that she did not call on any other students. Philip Garber, the student who stutters, said that she did call on other students.

Since the article has appeared, Snyder said that she has received many nasty and threatening e-mail messages, and that she feels her reputation has been destroyed. In May, Snyder was named "educator of the year" by the college’s Educational Opportunity Fund for her work with financially and academically disadvantaged students. She did not comment for the original article, but in an interview for the second article, told the Times that "I’ve been an advocate for kids my entire life. But people’s rush to judgment on this, it feels like it’s pretty much destroyed my life."

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