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?

Making Work-Life Balance Work

By: Katie Austin

“If you don’t design your life, then someone else may just design it for you, and you may not like their idea of balance” – Nigel Marsh.

I love this quote because it gets to the heart of why I chose this topic! I struggle with balancing work and my personal life and I believe many others do, too.

I watched a TED Talk by Nigel Marsh called, “How to make work-life balance work.” Marsh stated, “With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life. Moreover, it can transform society.” He believes that we need to change society’s definition of success, moving away from the “person with the most money wins to a more thoughtful and balanced definition of what a life well lived looks like.” I agree!


What does work-life balance mean? It is the concept of properly prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).

What happens to us when work and life are out of balance? A Mayo Clinic article, “Work-life Balance: Tips to Reclaim Control,” describes the following consequences of a poor balance:

  • Fatigue – when you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly suffers.
  • Poor health – stress is associated with adverse effects on the immune system and can put you at risk of substance abuse.
  • Lost time with friends and loved ones – if you’re working too much, you will miss important family events and milestones. This will leave you feeling left out and can harm relationships.
  • Increased expectations – If you regularly work extra hours, you may be given more responsibility. This can lead to additional concerns and challenges.

Now let’s talk about how you can achieve balance in your life.

There is no perfect, one-size-fits-all balance you should strive for. Take small steps like these for long-term changes:

1. It’s not about doing more, it’s about doing things differently.

Put simply – there is no room in your life to do anything more than you are already doing. Rather than making room for your new actions, make choices.

2. Free time doesn’t have to be available time. Make sure to schedule down time.

An example that I can easily relate to is when a friend asks you to attend an event. You check your calendar, see that the date is open and you say “yes,” marking it in your calendar. It isn’t until later that you realize that was the only block of time during the week that wasn’t filled. The only time you would have been able to take time to yourself, run errands, or simply watch your favorite TV show. If you’re like me and you need time to recharge, it’s important to remember that you can turn invitations down for no other reason than you want that time to yourself. Your free time can be just that – free.

3. Focus on thriving, not surviving.

This is key – you won’t thrive if your focus is on simply surviving the day or trying to make it to the end of the week.

4. Treat yourself like a dog.

I have to admit that I have never heard this before, but it is so true! Think of it this way – remember the last time you played with your dog (or maybe a friend’s dog)? What would you do if that dog did something for you like fetched a ball? You would praise them (good girl/boy), pat them on the head or maybe give them a treat. Why don’t you do that for yourself? We treat our dogs better than we treat ourselves. Anytime you do something that creates better work-life balance, reward yourself with a treat.

Not sure where you are in the work life balance? Take a look at these questions. For me, the greatest impact of this exercise was not just answering the questions, but the fact that I took the time to slow down long enough to go through the exercise, to focus on real questions about how I was spending my time. I do believe that if we make small changes over time, we can find balance.

“Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” – Betsy Jacobson