Teachers Pass Out Treats In Pill Bottle to Calm Test Anxiety

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

pill bottle

Two teachers gave their students candy in a pill bottle and at least one caregiver says that sends a bad message. Credit: Charles Williams, Flickr

Two Florida teachers tried to "mellow out" their fourth grade students by passing out mint candies in pill bottles before a state test, and at least one caregiver is unhappy about it, saying the message that pills help relieve stress is inappropriate.

Sandy Young tells the Tampa Tribune she was shocked to walk into her grandson's Westchase Elementary School classroom and spot a pill bottle sitting on his desk. Teacher Beth Watson assured her that the contents of the bottle were just candy, but Young is still upset about the message being sent.

"She said it was nothing but some mints; it was just something special for the kids, for the [Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test] to mellow them out," Young tells the newspaper. "We turn around and we have our teachers giving them drugs. I don't care if it's mints or not. ... If it's in a prescription bottle, it's a drug."

The "drug" in question was a bottle of candies made to resemble prescription medication. Young tells the Tribune that the bottle reads in part: "Watson's Whiz Kid Pharmacy. Take 1 tablet by mouth EVERY 5 MINUTES to cure FCAT jitters. Repeated use may cause craft to spontaneously ooze from pores. No refills. Ms. (Deborah) Falcon's authorization required."

District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe tells the newspaper there has been only one complaint about the incident thus far and that Watson and her co-teacher Deborah Falcon have met with the principal. No disciplinary action is pending at this time.

"Elementary teachers do creative things to make learning fun," Cobbe says. The teachers won't be disciplined, and it wasn't their intention to promote drug use, she adds.

She adds that the idea for the pill bottle came from a book the students read recently. In "George's Marvelous Medicine" by Roald Dahl, a boy concocts potions to change the mood of his grumpy grandmother.

But Young isn't buying it. Even pretending to take drugs is a serious matter, she says.

"We as parents and grandparents have to drill it into them that this is unacceptable and hope and pray that they don't accept drugs from someone else," Young tells the Tribune.

Other parents, however, don't feel the same way and are backing up the two teachers. Jenny McMurray's son is in the same class, and she says Falcon and Watson "go above and beyond."

They are fantastic and wonderful teachers," McMurray tells the Tribune in a follow-up story. "I spend a lot of time in the class and am constantly amazed by their energy and creativity. They genuinely care for all of these kids. They do wonderful engaging activities with the kids. They've been doing it all year."

Does this send the wrong message to kids about drugs or was it just a harmless treat?

Related: Anti-Drug PSA Plays on Our Worst Fear -- Not Having Pizza

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.