North Carolina Students Rally to Keep "Cyborg" Elementary School Teacher
Patrica Fellowes is not only a beloved fifth-grade science teacher at Pattison Elementary School in Selkirk, North Carolina.

She's also a "cyborg."

After a car crash in 2006 robbed Fellowes of sight in one eye and her ability to speak, research scientists at North Carolina's Duke University tapped Fellowes as a prime candidate for an experimental body modification program.

Fellowes was fitted with machinery designed to augment and enhance her sensory perception, giving her the sort of abilities usually only described in science fiction. Her eye was replaced with a camera and microprocessor, and her trachea was fitted with a device that allows her to directly interact with her onboard computer system.

"It took a while to get used to being more machine than woman, but now I don't know how I ever got by without all this stuff," said Fellowes.

In addition to the other computer equipment, Fellowes has a permanent wireless internet connection. She is a walking "hot spot." She can also make and receive cell phone calls, merely by speaking.

"My left eye gives me a heads-up display with direct access to the internet that is operated by voice commands," said Fellowes. "I can instantly look up things on Wikipedia and check my email. Additionally, I have 100% voice-recognition accuracy, because my voice is also computerized."

Fellowes speaks in an uninflected monotone that her fifth-grade students found unsettling at first, but which they quickly grew to love.

Earlier this year, Fellowes found herself embroiled in local controversy when some of the parents in her school district objected to her lessons on evolution.

At first, she was reprimanded by the school board and threatened with termination. However, a group of her former students protested the school board's decision, ultimately causing the school board to back down and exonerate Fellowes.

"At this time, we see no reason to interfere with the Teacher's Union or with the administration at Pattison Elementary School," said Pete Lancaster, School Board President. "Mrs. Fellowes is an exemplary teacher with an exemplary record."

Because Fellowes is able to make a recording of everything that she sees with her eye camera, she was able to prove conclusively that she had not strayed from the approved curriculum when engaging in the evolution vs. creationism debate.

"I teach the facts," said Fellowes. "I am always willing to admit when I am wrong, but no one is able to Google things faster than me in order to settle arguments or look up information."

Fellowes often "searches before she speaks," and has therefore gained a reputation as a careful, yet rigorous, science educator.

"Mrs. Fellowes knows everything," said Cassie Whitmore, 13, one of Fellowes' former students. "She can update her Facebook status with her mind!"

Married for over ten years, Fellowes would not talk about how her operation has affected her relationship with her husband, John. She simply smiled and said that her husband has never complained once about being assimilated.

Posted by miracle on Thu, 21 Oct 2010 01:09:19 -0500 -- permanent link

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