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Should an Ex-Porn Star Be Allowed to Teach?

In the 1990s, Tera Myers starred in pornographic videos. Now she's a top notch science teacher—who is losing her job because of her past.


By all accounts, 38-year-old Tera Myers was an effective science teacher. During her four-year stint at Parkway North High School in Saint Louis, Missouri, Myers received favorable performance reviews from her principal and was well-liked by students, parents, and other staff members. But her teaching days at Parkway North are over after a student confronted her this week over a pornographic video she made almost 20 years ago.

This isn't the first time Myers has been forced to resign over her pornographic past. In 2006 she was teaching in Paducah, Kentucky, under the name Tericka Dye. A football player at the school saw the video, confronted her about it, and then, shockingly, began distributing it on campus. A copy fell into another teacher's hands, and made its way to the school's administration. Myers was suspended with pay for the rest of the school year and her contract was not renewed.


In the aftermath, she appeared on the Dr. Phil show, telling him that the district never indicated a problem with her effectiveness—again, she'd always received favorable performance reviews. Many teachers and students supported her but ultimately the district said they weren't rehiring her specifically because of her past. Another teacher at the school told Dr. Phil that Myers should not be kept on as a teacher because her past is "sinful" and would be a distraction for boys with raging hormones.

Myers told Dr. Phil that at the time she made the porn videos, she was only 22 years old, a single mom with two kids, homeless and suffering from untreated bipolar disorder. Desperate to make money, she began stripping, which led to her doing porn under the name Rikki Anderson. She joined the Army after leaving the porn industry and used the G.I. Bill to go back to school.

After the debacle in Kentucky, she changed her name to Tera Myers, moved to St. Louis, and hoped her past was finally behind her. Background checks didn't indicate that Myers had a past in pornography because appearing in porn videos isn't illegal. And, when her references were checked, no one disclosed her past, choosing instead to talk about her skill as a teacher.

There's no denying that teachers are role models and most school districts have codes of ethical conduct that educators have to abide by. But the application of the codes is oftentimes inconsistent—recent controversies have seen teachers getting the ax over vacation photos they've uploaded to Facebook, or for hate blogging about their students. What sets Myers' case apart from those instances is that her actions took place back in the 1990s, well before she ever stepped foot in a classroom. When Dr. Phil asked her how a school could be sure she wouldn't go back to porn, she replied, "I’ve gotten on medication. I’ve found God. I’ve gotten an education. I’ve done everything I could possibly do to prove that I’m a different person now."

The school district's spokesperson, Paul Tandy, says they've accepted Myers' request to be placed on administrative leave "out of respect for her privacy and that of her family" and she'll resign at the end of the school year. Myers has worked so hard to turn her life around, and is a good science teacher to boot, but sadly, it really seems she'll never escape her past. In the meantime, there's no word on whether the minor student who actually broke the law by possessing and viewing pornographic material will face any consequences.

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via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

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