Are You A Champion for Someone?

By: Shannon Boatwright

I was just talking the other day with my precious, fellow fine arts friend and orchestra teacher, Mrs. Amy Reynolds, and we were saying how, as teachers, we literally perform every day, over and over for each class. We chatted about how we’ve heard other teachers state, “I’m not here to entertain these kids!” Well, yes you are! As teachers, our purpose is to grab their attention, engage them, intrigue them and be there for them. You cannot do that successfully without entertaining them on some level. We are indeed actors and actresses. We pretend, and we put on our happy faces when we’re utterly exhausted and overwhelmed. We go to great lengths to gain the students’ attention. And if we’re really good, we ACT like we’re happy to see them, whether we really are or not! We ACT like we haven’t said the same thing 20 times already in one day. We ACT like we aren’t completely overworked and sleep deprived.  I could go on and on, but the point is, if we’re doing our job right, heck yea, we perform!

We are great actors in this thing called life, yet we have this incredible gift, this fabulous power to make a difference in someone’s life. We have the privilege of being a champion. It’s not another thing to add to our to-do list, it’s an honor. Not many professions get to say that they get the opportunity to be a champion for so many kids on a daily basis. There have been school years in which I see and teach 180 students in one day. That’s a lot of lives in which to make a positive difference!

I am ever thankful for being presented with this video of the amazing Mrs. Pierson. When I had to watch and reflect on this video for a recent graduate class I had to take, I specifically told my learning group that I could feel it…this special video was going to prompt a blog entry for sure. 🙂 Such inspiring, awesome stuff!

I really needed to see this video the week I was introduced to it. Recently, I have been struggling with some bullying issues in some of my classes and I have zero tolerance for that kind of behavior – so much so, that it hurts my heart and I get really angry. I absolutely cannot stand to see these kids get hurt. But it happens every day in this lovely, adolescent, middle school world I’m submerged in. Needless to say, my eyes were opened yesterday when I witnessed a unique situation in one of my classes, in which bullying-type of behavior took place. My attention went towards something different than to the typical bully that makes the cruel comment. Instead, I noticed the reactions of others in my class. All the attention is usually on the bully and the victim, but in this case I noticed a group of girls – good girls, that I adore – snicker and laugh. Though they didn’t say anything out loud that could be heard, they reacted in a very ugly way – a way in which the victim noticed. I could see the pain in the victim’s eyes and the disappointment washed over me something fierce. Something very important hit me in that moment and I knew that I needed to speak with these kids and open their eyes to a different viewpoint of “bullying.” These kids hear so much about the subject, yet it seems the focus is always on the bully and the victim.

Last night, I saw this lovely quote posted on Instagram by a close friend, that says, “How you make others feel says a lot about you.” I immediately thought, that’s it! That’s what these kids have got to realize. So at the start of every single one of my classes one day last week, I had this beautiful quote displayed on my smartboard and I had a very quick little talk with them all. I didn’t point any fingers or reveal which class I saw this specific ugly thing take place, but I hope and pray I opened their eyes to thinking about bullying from a different perspective. I made a point of telling them that how they react is always seen by someone and if you’re showing any ugliness on the outside, a cruel, negative reaction of any sort, it will be noticed. And that reaction says a whole lot about you. The end point is to make others feel good about themselves and be aware, because how you act can be a direct reflection of who you are. We must recognize that we need to be an example for these kids and recognize that every kid needs a champion!

Mrs. Rita Pierson addresses this point of being a champion for someone in such a beautiful way. We all need a champion and we can all be a champion for someone else. You don’t have to be a teacher to be a champion to someone. It takes the simplest act to make such a significant difference. It’s a beautiful thing indeed. I’m very thankful to have seen this special video and felt its positive impact. Though I was very saddened to hear that this great lady passed away a few years ago, I know that her spirit, strength and ability to shed light and sunshine on others will continue on for years and years to come, thanks to this TEDTalk and the peoples’ lives that she touched.

So think about it….are you a champion for someone in your life?

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