Oakleaf Junior High teacher arrested

Apr 9, 2013 Full story: News 4 Jax

A physical education teacher at Oakleaf Junior High School was arrested Monday and charged with child abuse after deputies said he placed a student in a choke hold.

Full Story
John Ryan Tillman

Winter Garden, FL

#1 Apr 9, 2013
I hade the honor to coach with and against Coach Ford. I can tell you I have not met an educator who is as dedicated to all children of Clay County as Mike Ford. Coach Ford has been the head coach of the Sunny Runners Running Club for the past 4 years. The Sunny Runners Running Club allows all Track athletes in Clay County an opportunity to run at state. I do not know what happened in the situation with Coach Ford and the student, but something sounds fishy that does not sound like the man I have coached with and against the last 4 years. Their has to be more to the story than what is being said. Ask any athlete Coach Ford has coached on his Sunny Runner's team or his Oakleaf team and they will tell you the type of man he is and the type of character he has.

Sincerely,

John Ryan Tillman
P.E. Teacher Clay County
Lorraine Weiss

Gainesville, GA

#2 Apr 11, 2013
I agree with John. My children were on the track team and ran for Coach Ford. He is an outstanding person and dedicated teacher.
Steve Bruce

Jacksonville Beach, FL

#3 Apr 11, 2013
I have directed several running events in Clay County over the past decade. Mike Ford was oftentimes a key volunteer in organizing the events. He displayed a passion for the sport of running. I observed a high level of professionalism in his dealing with both adults and children. He treated my children with the utmost respect.

Under no circumstances should we tolerate abuse of children by anyone. That said, if my son ever tells a teacher to “shut up” and walks away in a disrespectful manner, I expect the teacher to take strong and immediate action. Based on what I have read, I have formed the opinion that Coach Ford’s action likely will prove not to be abuse.

Let’s hope that complete and accurate information is obtained and all parties learn from this unfortunate situation
Timothy Samuel Pierce

Lake City, FL

#4 Apr 11, 2013
I had the priviledge of running under Coach Ford with Sunny Runners for three years in a row. This was the man who did everything in his power to get my 4x800m relay team to state, stayed up all night long trying to convince the state meet director that we should get to run, and made personal phone calls to each of us apologizing that we wouldn't be able to run at states. Mike Ford attended my cross country banquet in 8th grade to say that he would be moving out of state for a while, speaking on his experience as a coach, and what it was going to take to pursue collegiate running. Ever been touched by someone's speech? I have. Coach Ford was boisterous, eccentric, and a true character, but this man was more dedicated to his athletes than anything else. His program consisted of more than 100 athletes running events between 100 meters and 5,000 meters, and this man did it all. I've been the victim of some firm handshakes, and a hefty pat on the back or two, but Coach Ford was never quick to anger, and always possessed a patient, optimistic, "Who cares if we can't do it on paper, let's go after it!" attitude.

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