VA: Community supports teacher who gave homework involving Islam calligraphy

VA: Community supports Islam homework teacher courtesy WSHV-TV / CNN

More than three thousand people have turned to Facebook to support a teacher ridiculed for a geography assignment.

The Virginia teacher asked students to copy the Islamic statement of faith to experience the artistic complexity of calligraphy.

Backlash from the assignment forced the closure of an entire school district.

A group gathered Friday afternoon at Constitution park in Waynesboro to show their support for Riverheads High School teacher Cheryl Laporte. Jennifer lewis organized the event.

"I feel terrible for what she's probably going through right now, I'm sure she can't leave her house and feels the hate personally. I just want to tell her that we all love her, we all support her" Lewis said.

This comes after some in the community like Kimberly Herndon were outraged over this assignment, asking students to copy the Islamic statement of faith for a world geography class.

"In the Christian faith, if you denounce your god, that's an abomination." said an upset parent, Kimberly Herndon.

A group on Facebook has brought together more than 3,500 people from all across the world supporting Laporte. One post from a woman claiming to be her daughter has a message from the teacher. She writes, "I have been humbled by the love and support i have received from so many wonderful people. Thank you all, and please know you put the happy back in my holidays."

Lewis says with all this negativity, she wants to show love, especially this time of year. "we want to show her that we support her, her job- i mean this was her job she was just doing what the state requires her to do which is to teach kids, educate our kids."

Lewis says this isn't the Augusta County she knows."I just hope that people will look at Augusta County as more than just this situation, and see us for the welcoming, loving community that we really are."

The school's superintendent says a different non-religious sample of Arabic calligraphy will be used in the future.

WHSV-TV reached out to Kim Herndon to see how she was doing given all the attention her message has gotten this week.

She released a statement saying in part-- "this needs to die down so that our community can begin a healing process. I have no desire to be spotlighted for how it has affected us. I think that's been done enough."