My First Time: Kevin Von Maxey

Kevin Von Maxey. // Photo: Douglas Tyler

A photo almost destroyed the language arts teacher’s career before it started.

During the 2003-2004 school year, I almost got fired on my second day of teaching because of what I did on my first day of teaching. A local newspaper wanted to do a series of articles on me as a first-year teacher. The newspaper was intrigued that I was a hometown boy returning to my alma mater, Tavares Middle School, to teach. A reporter and a photographer showed up on the first day of school, and it ended up not going so well. 

During my first-period class, we had morning announcements on a closed-circuit television. I forgot to plug in the television. The outlet was high on the wall, so I climbed up on a desk to plug in the cord. The photographer took a picture of me standing on the desk. 

The next morning, a colleague calls at 6am and tells me to get to school as quickly as I can. The colleague was at McDonald’s and overheard a conversation between two school board officials who were upset about a photograph of me in a newspaper standing on a desk. I get to school as quickly as I can and I’m met by my assistant principal. She told me that officials from the county school board were there and very upset. They were going to try to discipline me for breaking code violations. I was thinking I might get fired. Fortunately, my administration fought for me and I ended up getting a warning about classroom code violation. 

I’m glad they did not fire me because I ended up winning Rookie Teacher of the Year at my school that year and was one of three finalists in the district. In 2010, I was named Lake County Teacher of the Year. I still tell new teachers that no matter what happens on their first day, it won’t be as bad as what happened to me.