I had hoped I would not have to deliver this news, but it sounds as though there is virtually no chance the man many call “the very best teacher in Richmond County” will professionally survive the scandal involving his son’s on-campus music video shoot.
Ben Isaac, or Ike, as I have known him for the past several decades, is an award-winning English teacher at T.W. Josey High School. He is also very well known for his days as a production technician working for Comcast in Augusta, and as the lead singer for the local alternative rock band known as Jemani.
If you have been living in a cave for the last few weeks, you may have missed the fact that Ike has been suspended since the release of his son Nigel’s hip hop video “No F**ks”, which was produced in part on campus at Josey, using some students (after hours) and school owned equipment and uniforms.
Ike has told friends and supporters he had the permission of school administrators to make the video, which uses highly profane language to convey a very serious and important message to young people, about the hideousness of using profane and obscene imagery to get attention.
You might say the project has become a cautionary tale of a brilliant message, delivered in the worst possible way.
To attempt to describe the video would be folly, but it is all over YouTube and Facebook, so have at it.
Nigel is an incredibly talented graduate of Davidson Fine Arts High School, and a young man with tremendous potential in the entertainment business. I hope he will soon hit it big, because he may have to support his dad for a while.
I am told that even though no final decision has been made, there is a better than 90 percent chance Superintendent Angela Pringle will recommend termination to the members of the Richmond County School Board, with all 10 members getting a closed session update on the matter Tuesday night.
The final call for action is still several weeks away, but suffice to say Mr. Isaac is not returning in the interim and, barring some kind of miracle, he will be officially, and likely unanimously, s**t-canned once the Trustees vote.
If Ike has a case to be made, I hope he has a good attorney armed with the paperwork to do it. Nothing short of signed documents with full disclosure of the content of said video to his superiors will come close to getting him off the hook.
Ike did himself no favors with his defiant tone on social media, such as captured in the screen shot above from last week. The trouble concerning the video is completely about involving school colors, locations and equipment (clearly shown as Josey) within a creative piece featuring language and imagery completely inappropriate in a “school-related” project.
Clearly he should have known better, no matter how pure his intentions. He had a major lapse in judgment on this one.
If Quentin Tarentino or Spike Lee had paid the system to use Josey as the location for the same project, there would have been pages off legal disclaimers demanding that no connection to real persons or institutions be relayed in any way, shape or form. And there wouldn’t have been.
What a terrible, terrible waste in so many ways. The video itself is an incredible accomplishment. While the song is not my “cup of tea” its message is 100 percent worthy and relevant, and the artistic qualities of the overall project are genuine and remarkable. In many ways, it looks like a Hollywood shoot that cost well over $100,000 to make.
It is heartbreaking that Ben Isaac and his talent will not be available to the students of Josey ever again, at least not in his capacity as a teacher and a mentor there. I encourage and sincerely hope another local system, preferably in Georgia for financial reasons, will hire him next year. Perhaps since he is just short of earning his Ph.D., he will get that finished, and move on to teach at the college level. His talent and heart are needed.
I will say this, if my son has the opportunity to ever have Mr. Isaac as a teacher, I will encourage it as strongly as possible. He is a brilliant and hard-working educator who made a mistake. Forgive him, and move on.
You have heard the idiom, “It happens to the best of us”? Here we have proof positive, it most certainly does!