Hundreds, including former students of Nick Popadich and their parents, jumped to his defense when a local resident tried to slam him.
Nick Popadich has had a whirlwind of ups and downs this Pride Month. The English teacher at Grand Blanc High School in Michigan suddenly found himself the subject of controversy when a local resident posted pictures of Popadich wearing makeup in a community Facebook group and slammed it as unacceptable behavior for a male teacher. While the father-of-two didn't see the homophobic post on the Grand Blanc Residents Uncensored group until later, several members who were former students of Popadich and their parents immediately jumped to his defense. "Once I got back to my phone, I got all these texts that were saying -- they were warning me like Nick, you gotta check this out. Somebody's bashing you on social media," he told WJRT.
Speaking to the network, Popadich explained that he sometimes wears "make-up and express [himself] in a certain way." However, someone seemingly took offense to the teacher's colorful persona and attempted to slam him on the Grand Blanc Residents Uncensored Facebook group. Sharing photos of Popadich sporting makeup, blue lipstick, oversized sunglasses, and a septum ring, the individual reportedly wrote: "Is it true this man teaches at Grand Blanc High School? This is not acceptable as a role model for kids easily influenced."
An overwhelming deluge of support and love countered the post — which has since been deleted — as hundreds came to the beloved educator's defense. "If you don't know him you have no right to say anything about him. I'd love to have had someone like him as a teacher in school. Why is everyone so dead set on having a certain image and looking a certain way? What happened to being yourself? If we spent more time encourage authenticity and acceptance instead of promotion of uncensored hate on pages like this maybe we'd learn a little and get along more," commented one Facebook user.
"Whoever had the issue with this man should sit down and have coffee and get to know him before speaking ill. I bet his classroom is fun. His students actually learn things and enjoy school when they are in his class," they added. "I am proud to call Nick Popadich a friend. He is a wonderful human and I'll be proud when my kids are old enough to have him as a teacher," wrote another. Another local, one of Popadich’s former students, shared her support for him in a powerful post in the group. "We live in a time where self-expression and self-love are not always applauded, a world where oppression and close-mindedness have always taken the lead," wrote Angelica Pineda.
“At first, it was just that heart palpitation -- kind of like, oh what’s going on. And then it was just that pleasant surprise of hearing everyone sending me well wishes,” said teacher Nick Popadich. https://t.co/n9Q1p11BQT— Cleveland 19 News (@cleveland19news) June 14, 2021
"It is so important that we remind the world and our youth that it's okay to be different. It's okay to be you," she continued. "With that said, it is pretty evident from the former thread that Popadich has been highly (positively) influential for many former GB students including myself. I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to have learned from them. The former post which has now been deleted represents the ugliness that sadly still exists in the world but the love and support in the comments was a reminder of the difficult (but necessary) work that's been done and the direction we're headed."
"Popadich represents indivduality, self-love, diversity, and uniqueness. They continue to create a safe space and be a safe person for all students and I think it's important to spotlight on that & give credit where it's due. Consider this a virtual ovation," Pineda concluded. Addressing the love and support he's received, Popadich said: "At first, it was just that heart palpitation -- kind of like, oh what's going on. And then it was just that pleasant surprise of hearing everyone sending me well wishes. Teachers need to represent every student, and we have plenty of people that look a certain way. But we also need to have other people that are going to be there for kids and be a role model for kids that do feel differently or are going to express themselves in a different way."