Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sometimes I am amazed at what my children teach me. They teach far more to me than any book or teacher ever has. The other day my son, Beau told me a comment his teacher said to his class. First of all, I want to set the stage. Beau is in eleventh grade at a public high school. The community we live in is considered above average in many ways. The houses, incomes and education levels of residents are all above national mean. The two local public high schools have been on the top 100 high schools in America list by US News & World Report several times. So in a community where standards are set high, I personally expect more. I expect more from the teachers in my children's schools and in the residents of the community. I know they are well educated to teach my children and I trust them to do their jobs well. Teachers in this community often excel expectations that I have. I believe a teacher has the responsibility to not only teach academics, but they also teach life skills and social graces. Teaching respect and tolerance of all people is my biggest goal for my children. Respect and tolerance sum up life to me. If you have the skill to know there is more behind a person than what you see, you learn to understand that not everything is as it appears. We live this every day. When Teale melts down in a store or rages in public, we can only hope the people we encounter understand that there is much more to her story. She is not always the raging person they see, she has depth and joy that do not show in those bad moments. This does not mean she should not be respected. I expect my children to understand that they are incredibly fortunate for many reasons. I teach my children this in both words and actions. There are children in our city, not fifteen miles away, who live in poverty. Some of these children have parents in jail and relatives who have died in street fights. I have volunteered in the city schools and had children tell me that their Dad was shot to death or their Mom is on drugs. The disparity between my community and communities just miles away is overwhelming. But, I have taught my children about these things and have exposed them so that they understand how fortunate they are. Ironically, in this community, my children are the less fortunate, we have had major times of struggle. We have financially been the less fortunate. My motto has been "We may be poor in money, but we are rich in love." Hearing myself say that, I am not sure I like it though. Am I teaching my kids that we also wish to keep up with the Joneses of our community? I hope not. Back to the story, with all I have shared being taken into consideration. This week my son, Beau, shared with me that one of his teachers said "You could pass last years regents exam, if you rode the short bus and wore a helmet." While you pick your jaw up off the floor, I will give you my reaction "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" I was in complete disbelief! Beau is the sibling of a sister who rides a short bus and you know the teacher did not know this when she said it. BUT that does not mean it is excusable. If she knew, would she have said it? Does that even matter? No it does not, because it goes straight back to my personal core beliefs, respect and tolerance. Mark and I are disgusted and we will deal with this in some way with the supervisors of this teacher and with the teacher herself. I will push for disability awareness training for this teacher and I will let her know how hurtful her comment was. Beau taught me more by sharing this than he probably realizes. And I plan on having that teaching continue by helping to spread the word and raise awareness. What you say impacts how people see you and others. Respect and tolerance, it's actually kinda simple.