A Future of Change

November 6, 2020

Wow, I really learn a lot from my children. My daughter is thirteen years old and in eighth grade. Her aspiration is to become an equal rights lawyer, and her drive for justice at a young age serves as evidence of the great things she is capable of. Almost daily, she has something to share with me regarding something she saw in the news, a discussion she had with peers (often heated), or questions that she has been pondering. In the past several months, she has gone toe to toe with peers regarding the BLM movement – citing facts and historical events. A lot of which I was not aware of and had to “fact check” myself. She was accurate. In another instance, she and a friend debated finding a middle ground regarding the LGBTQ community. In the end, my daughter concluded that the only middle ground is that she will not tell her friend whom to love or marry, and that is how it should be for everyone. 

With all this knowledge and understanding, I am amazed and impressed daily. However, not long ago, my daughter came to me stunned. She could not believe that many of the historical events that paved the way for social justice (and yes that road is still under construction), were not so long ago. She was dumbfounded when she found out that there were still people alive from WWII and the holocost. That Martin Luther King Jr was the same age as Barbara Walters, and that Ruby Bridges was born the same year as her grandmother. She could not believe that she knew people who personally experienced segregation, who put their life on the line for equality, and who served to end and suffered under extreme prejudice. 

To say the least, this revelation caused pause. On one hand, she realized that many have suffered and been denied equality far longer than she had imagined. On the other, it opened her eyes to why the struggle continues today. The wounds are raw. The wounds that continue to be ripped open by insensitive or numb words, by a lack of understanding and closed hearts, and by actions – particularly by those in positions of power or service. It also gave her hope. As much as my daughter is acutely aware of the lack of social justice and equality in our world, she is also aware of the movement, a shift in the way things were. She is ready to stand with her fellow humans, and to fight for what is fundamentally and humanly right. She is going to change the world. I hope I too can make her proud.

Genuflect

September 8, 2020

Lately, I have been hearing more and more division amongst people in regard to taking a knee during the National Anthem, and it has gotten me thinking. 

What does it mean to take a knee? What does it mean to respect the flag and country? What does it mean to appreciate the service and sacrifice of our many military heros? What does it mean to stand up for what is right, even in the face of adversity? Admittedly, there are many more questions than I have answers for, but I do have  a few thoughts. 

To begin, I reflected on taking a knee. Looking up the work genuflect, it reaffirmed that taking a knee is typically a sign of worship or respect – bowing down. Commonly, taking a knee is done on a field of play when a player is injured. Again, to show respect and solidarity for someone hurting. Taking a knee before a leader, ruler, higher up shows that you are showing your servitude. This may be where some of my confusion begins. How has taking a knee during the National Anthem been interpreted as disrespectful. 

I understand that it is seen as a sign of protest. To some, this seems to be a sign of disrespect to the flag, military personnel, and the Nation. However, isn’t this a nation built on the freedom to express oneself, to stand up for those being oppressed, to serve others? Taking a knee is bowing down in respect, and asking the nation for help. We are hurting, and need the support of ALL Americans to ensure that ALL of us are taken care of and respected. As I see it, taking a knee is begging for mercy and assistance, not showing a lack of respect or appreciation. 

Just something to think about. The next time someone takes a knee, maybe rather than assuming the worst, ask ourselves how WE can assist with providing a hand up. So that we can all be off of our knees. Be merciful, provide grace, see the good in others. Above all else, choose kindness.

On the Winds of Change

August 10, 2020

Edit: Just as I finished this entry, my children rushed into my “basement office” to inform me that the tornado sirens were going off. Seems fitting, as we are in a whirlwind of change. My hope is that there is a rainbow at the end of this storm.

Funny, on March 13th the world seemed to stop spinning. At that time, we thought it would be for a few weeks, then a couple of months. Well, nearly five months later, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, with no end in sight. This coupled with an election year have made for some interesting social media posts. For the most part, these are things that I easily bypass as I am perusing my accounts for cute dog pictures, delicious recipes and catching up on what my friends and family are doing both near and afar. 

Unfortunately, as we are at the precipice of a new school year, things are getting ugly. As a teacher, I have dedicated my life to students. Children that I love and care for. Children that I put before my own needs, and at times, even my family. However, as our district has decided to err on the side of safety and begin the school year in a remote setting, the forked tongues are rampant. Assuming that teachers are on an extended vacation, is not only false it is detrimental to education. In my experience, the current expectations put on teachers by their schools, districts, students (and selves), far exceeds any previous expectations. Typically, in the final weeks of summer vacation, teachers take a few days to really indulge in self care. That is currently NOT the case. At this time, teachers are taking part in endless hours of professional development, building online classrooms, experimenting with synchronous and asynchronous teaching and learning new online formats, and, and, and . . .

Teaching is a partnership between families and teachers, and even the community. When those relationships are undermined, so is student learning. First and foremost, our children are at the center of this relationship. I know, in my heart, that if we focus on kindness and keeping our children the focus – we will get through this transition from what education was to what education will be. In the end, whether schools are reopening, working remotely, or somewhere in between, the end result will be something new and beautiful. Something that will truly serve our children in the twenty-first century.

2020 is Hindsight – Even as We Move Through It

June 3, 2020

As I reflect back on this year so far, I cannot imagine how many times I have thought, “ugh, this sucks.” 

The year started out as many others with plans, hopes, adventures, just waiting to be had. This year my daughter had multiple trips planned – developing her own adventures and gaining independence. She was scheduled to go to Nashville with her school’s orchestra where she would play her cello. She raised the money herself, and had so much pride and excitement built up. Then she would set off to our nation’s capital, again with school, to experience first hand it’s greatness. My son, who has found a passion for theater, was granted his first leading role, playing Mogle in “The Jungle Book.” He was looking forward to an incredible birthday bowling bash, his first official middle school party that he would be hosting. Then there was my birthday. I will be turning 40 this year, and my husband was so excited to throw the bash of the century. He’d rented a hall, booked a DJ, had a great theme, and invited everyone we know. Watching him plan this (all for me) was exhilarating. He was like a kid in a candy store with the golden ticket. 

Then, on March 13th, our world came to a halt. School was closed down, adventures postponed, sports canceled. Even friends and family were a no go. Safer at home was the beginning of many disappointments. Being a social person, I was struggling. But the real bummer was watching my kids. Day after day, their plans were canceled. They missed their friends. They were restless without sports. They missed school – their peers, teachers, predictability, even the work. There were tears. 

There were tears by all of us from time to time, but there was also great joy. Watching my children shrug of disappointment, building resilience and strength kept me going. Family game nights, looking forward to watching our favorite new series, serving others, taking more walks than we ever thought possible, and having a home cooked meal every night became the norm. We were able to spread joy by delivering flowers, painted shells, and gift baskets. Even as the disappointments mounted, we found ways to be happy.

Just as the world started turning again, albeit very slowly, tragedy struck. A man named George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. My heart broken, I struggled with what to do. As a white woman of privilege, I have no idea what it must feel like to constantly be hated because of melanin. I will never know, and I stand with you that do. Again, tears have been shed. I worry about my students, what their future holds for them. How I can best support, advocate for, honor, and teach them. One thing is for sure, I wholeheartedly believe that they know that I love them, and will never stop fighting for them. I also know that I need not worry about my own children’s perspectives. This horrific event (and the events that followed) has shown me, once again that my children have a strong moral compass. Since the news of George Floyd broke, my children have researched past injustices, asked questions, raised solutions, and shared hope. 

As if my heart were not heavy enough, there was a shooting in our city last night. At a place where things should be happy and family oriented, five children were shot. I have no words, only questions. Little has been shared of the event – severity of injuries, motive, parties involved – nothing. It breaks my heart that this event happened, and I worry again for my students. Are they safe, were any of them involved, do they know the people involved? The list goes on. And here I am, typing from my kitchen table, because (full circle) we cannot be together. Have not been together since March 13th. And who knows when we will be together again. 

The biggest question through all of this that keeps ringing in my head . . . what can I do? Although I am not yet sure, I know that something must be done. If not by me then who? I must take action. That action will begin at my own dining room table, with those that I know. One thing that I can do, now, today, is to ensure that those I am responsible for continue to love their neighbors, and be kind always. It is also imperative to make sure that I speak up when friends for family are not just (whether in action or word). No, this may not change the world, but it may change one person. And that is a start.

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