Teacher describes firing for Rick Warren video

Monday, May 16, 2016
 | 
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

apple on teacher's deskA teacher is telling her story after she was fired after showing a video featuring pastor Rick Warren.

Longtime substitute teacher Mary Simms showed the video to a 10th grade Honors English class at Collierville High School.

In the so-called TED Talk, Warren talks about what he did when he gained vast wealth and influence as his book "The Purpose Driven Life" climbed the bestsellers chart.

The next morning, says Sims, things fell apart.

"I got a text message at 4:45 on the day after I showed the TED Talk – the morning after," she recalls. "And the text message said, You cannot come to school. Please call me."

She heard from principal Chip Blanchard that she was being replaced after someone complained to him about the film.

OneNewsNow first reported on Sims' firing in a May 9 story.

Warren's TED Talk is entitled "A life of purpose" and has been viewed 2.6 million times.

Collierville High is located in Collierville, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis. 

Simms' lesson plan called for comparing Warren's theme – use what you're given for the betterment of others – with that of a James Joyce character who was profane and self-centered.

"I in no way was prepared for this to happen to me," Sims tells OneNewsNow. "I believe in excellence in every sense of the word. I'm a passionate educator."

She says she has no doubt that she was fired because the video featured a Christian speaker – even though the message was clearly secular.

Rick WarrenIn fact, Collierville Schools released a statement about the firing and stated that Simms allegedly showed a film that was "religious in nature" and deviated from the lesson plan, which violated school policy. 

"What concerns me still is that I have no idea what the parent or the student said to the principal at the ballgame that evening. It could have been completely false," she says.

In fact, the statement from the school suggests school officials did not review Warren's TED talk before firing Simms, since the statement states that she "allegedly" showed a film that was religious in nature.  

The novel the 10th graders are studying is "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," the first novel published by Irish writer James Joyce.

The main character is Stephen Dedalus, who is torn between hedonism and religious faith. 

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