Students protest for teacher raises

Published 9:58 pm Monday, March 20, 2017

About half a dozen students waved and smiled at traffic on Monday morning, as drivers arriving at and departing from Nansemond River High School beeped horns and shouted (mostly) encouragement to the teens.

Holding hand-lettered signs in support of their teachers, the students were calling for the Suffolk School Board to propose teacher salaries be increased by more than the average 2.4 percent proposed across the board for school staff in the 2017-2018 budget.

“I believe our teachers are getting undermined,” said senior Myles Geller, who organized fellow students for the before-school protest on the sidewalk in front of NRHS. “They aren’t getting respect.”


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The students chatted and laughed as they passed the time before school for about 40 minutes on Monday.

Geller said teachers — “especially government classes” — had been “talking about this for a week or so,” and he had decided to do something to help.

He discussed his plan for the protest on Friday with Principal Daniel O’Leary. He said O’Leary told him that he and other students had a First Amendment right to protest if they wanted to do so and that O’Leary could neither encourage nor discourage the activity.

“He said to be sure you’re not saying statements that are [profane] or out of place,” Geller said.

Soon after the students appeared on the sidewalk Monday morning, O’Leary walked out to look at the signs.

“Keep it positive,” he said after greeting the teens, and he soon headed back inside the building. As the principal was walking back, parents and others who had left students at the school drove by the gaggle of teens and beeped.

“That guy that just passed yelled, ‘Get a job, hippie!’” one student said, and he and the others seemed to raise their signs a bit higher in response.

For updates on the school system’s budget, check back later at