Tag Archives: support

A Child’s Best Hope

She hated me.

I didn’t know a lot about her, but I knew this for sure.

She hated me with every stare down as I walked through the halls, with every glare when I entered one of her classes, and with every silent meeting in my office – me talking, and her projecting her hatred  without saying a word, without cooperating in any way.

Once she stood up and punched at my face, expertly grazing my cheekbone so it didn’t cause damage, but it sent the clearest possible message.

I asked the school counselor what I had done wrong, what I had done to deserve such hatred.  She said, “Oh, don’t worry about her.  She hates everyone”.

Don’t worry?  If a 14-year-old hates everyone with that intensity, it is a huge cause for worry.


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 7.55.32 AM



Recently, while waiting to board a flight, I opened a free copy of the local paper – and there was her face, older but unmistakeable.  It was a selfie she had taken in happier times, her devilish smile betraying the torment that was under the surface.

The words below the photo did not mention suicide, but they didn’t have to. The two babies she adored were now without a mother.

As any educator would, I began to wonder if I could have done more.


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 7.21.18 AM


Mary Jean Gallagher often says that our job is to teach.  We are not social workers.  Our job is to ensure that children learn.

Catherine Montreuil emphasizes that no child in our classrooms can be stuck.  It is our responsibility to ensure that every child learns.  We don’t have to do it alone, we can get the supports we need to ensure learning happens.

Some of our kids need more than we can give.  It doesn’t mean we stop trying.  The structure of our schools makes it so difficult for some of our children to be successful.


I can no longer do anything for her, but I can keep working to make sure her babies enter an environment that embraces all cultures, respects and encourages all learning, and provides all the supports that all children need to be successful.

I owe her that.


Image credit:

mgaloseau via Compfight cc

Not Everybody Has a Good Day Every Day

Sometimes, things just don’t go well.  For so many of us, we are running, running, running.  We can take one or two things falling apart but there are days when catching a break seems elusive.

bad day
Kurt & Kristina via Compfight cc

I had a morning like that today.

“At least I am here to experience it”, is what I kept saying to everyone around me.

While waiting to see a physician (you are getting the flavour of how things were going…), a young mother and her 8-year-old son sat down beside me.

Once the mom had her son settled, she opened a duotang that had about 40 rubrics in it.  She turned quickly to the last page.  It was full of level 3’s and 4’s.  She paused.  I could see the look of pride wash over her face. She quickly checked the previous few pages.  All 3’s and 4’s.

She grabbed her son’s arm and showed him.

“Joey!”, she said.  “These are all 3’s and 4’s!”

“Look back at the start, remember?  All 1’s and 2’s.  You have improved SO much!  Look how well you are doing! You are working so hard and you are improving so much.  I am so proud of you!”

I watched Joey as she praised him.  He seemed to be holding back.  Then quietly he showed her a few pages near the back of the book that were 1’s and 2’s.

She turned to him and said, “But Joey, not everybody has a good day every day!”

bad day 2
-BeNnO- via Compfight cc

Lessons come to us from everywhere.

We have to remember that not everyone can be on their game every single day.   Students, teachers, parents, principals – we all have stuff that brings us down now and then.

I was fortunate to have great support all around me today.  When bad things happen to you, it gives those around you the chance to be a friend.

How do you make room for the bad days that other people in your life are having?

What do you with your chances to be a friend to those around you?