A teacher with a classroom across the hall from John Freshwater’s class was not interviewed by H.R. On Call, Inc. during its investigation last spring. The teacher, Sara Malone, has been a seventh grade history* teacher at Mount Vernon Middle School for the last five years.
Malone said that during the last school year her classroom was close enough to Freshwater’s that she would often stop by in between periods to see what Freshwater was up to.
At Friday’s Freshwater termination hearing, Malone was called as a witness for the defense.
(The Freshwater termination hearing is taking place in the Knox County Service Center.)
Malone testified that she had the Tesla coil tried on her last year. It was “just a little shock,” not an experience that she would describe as painful. It was run across her very quickly, maybe for a second.
The Tesla coil did not give her red skin, raised skin or blisters, Malone said.
Malone’s daughter was in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and interacted with Freshwater. “She enjoyed [Freshwater] as an FCA advisor,” Malone said. Her daughter never had any complaints about Freshwater and “she enjoyed those times that she actually got to be in his class,” Malone said.
Malone never saw Freshwater preaching from his Bible, but she never spent time in his class during class hours.
Malone said that she sometimes has her personal Bible out at school. Two other teachers she is aware of having a Bible out are Freshwater and Lori Miller.
As a history teacher, Malone deals with religion in the material she covers. Easter and Good Friday are subjects that might come up when talking about Christianity. The children do ask her questions about religion, such as one question that comes up almost every year: How does a person know what religion is true? Malone said that her response is to say, “That is a personal choice.”
Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney, asked her if a teacher can teach beyond the grade level.
Malone said that the teachers try to make connections to the things the students will be taught in the future. She has taught things that are reserved for the higher grades. One of those things was the formation of democracy “a mini unit on American government, on Greece and Rome” –a sub unit of a larger unit that she was teaching.
Malone uses internet resources, literature, books from different cultures and primary documents when possible. She uses movies that shed light on culture. Even shows regular movies: Prince of Egypt, Aladdin, Jason and the Argonauts. Malone explained that these are things that expand on the cultural elements that the class is covering. She said that she did not have to get outside approval to bring in any of these resources.
*note: I understood Malone to say that she was a history teacher, but the middle school website lists her as a Social Studies teacher. (Maybe she does both.)