a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The News Story We Never Hear

Last night, I actually took a break from school.  I closed my laptop for an hour and just watched sitcoms with my husband.  It was a glorious escape…until the teaser for the local news came on: “A bullying victim was brutally beaten and parents say the school did nothing to stop it.”

Immediately I was jarred out of my happy, mindless escape into the world of sitcom Monday night TV.  I was pulled back to reality, the reality of the angry world we live in today. 

Really?  The school did nothing to stop the attack?  Maybe I am just biased, but I have a hard time believing that’s true.  Certainly I have encountered my fair share of incompetent, disengaged, or just plain mean teachers and administrators over the years.  However, they are not the norm.  I think it is far more likely that the faculty and staff at the high school referenced in the news story are in tears over this case. 

I was told yesterday by my 9th hour class that the “new” rule we have about teasing and bullying (a reference to a recent crackdown by my team of teachers on a growing teasing/bullying problem) just makes students want to do it more.   They claimed our expectation that they be nice to each other was unfair.  And many of them are the victims. 

My response to them was, of course, that I refuse to just give up.  It so important to me that they feel safe, that I am willing to deal with a temporary increase in bullying until students realize we are serious.  But in my heart, I know we can’t catch it all.   We can’t be everywhere, hear everything, and keep them all safe. 

But we are trying.  And we are pouring our hearts and souls into taking care of our students.  I guess that doesn’t make for a good news story, though. 

This is the story I want to see on the news:

The teacher who is in the classroom next to mine recently had a student come to her with a torn pair of jeans.  He said, “I remember at the beginning of the year, when we were introducing ourselves, you mentioned you like to sew.  Can you do anything with these jeans?  They have a big hole and my family cannot afford new ones right now.”

I want my “escape” tonight interrupted by the teaser: Student sees his teacher as a helpful resource for taking care of his basic needs.

Guess what that student was wearing the next week?  Those jeans looked like new. 


  1. I could have written this. Our school has been in the news recently also for an assault that took place in the parking lot of our high school. Never mind that it too place long after school hours. Never mind that school officials were never told until two weeks after the assault. It still comes across as the school did nothing....

    Keep focusing on the positive things that you see. And share them with everyone you know!

  2. I agree with you that schools are trying and yet they can't catch it all. Teachers work hard in their jobs. Look at your sentence: "I closed my laptop for an hour." How many others spend their evenings doing more work? I wish too that good stories would appear, and loved yours about the jeans. Perhaps you should call in a 'news tip'!

  3. What a wonderful act of kindness to focus upon - all of need to remind ourselves that its stuff like this that grows a community and lends it an atmosphere of acceptance and safety.

  4. I so understand your frustration! It does seem that only the negative gets reported. On Friday we had our student of the week presentations. There were some extra's thrown into it though, presented to us were 3 fourth grade students who were inspired by a bullying article in Time for Kids. To make a long story short, they decided to make tee-shirts to advertise anti-bullying, apparently the tee-shirts were a big hit, more kids wanted to wear them, so the girls decided to make them & sell them & give the proceeds for a fellow student who was just diagnosed with cancer! There was NOT a dry eye in the room! Yet, the news was not there taping this, I so wish they were, these kids were just precious!!! Just 3 fourth grade students doing something kind for a fellow friend! News needs to report more of these things, I know the bad things happen & it is so disheartening when there are so many hard working, dedicated, caring teachers out there! So, when you hear the bad things, try to remember the good things!

  5. I agree with you so much. When I hear news like that I wonder what's the rest of the story? There's always more going on than the reporters report.

  6. I agree too, and that's why I don't watch the news! They're always so busy picking out the negatives that they don't have time to see all the wonderful things that are happening too. Maybe someday someone will make a positive news channel that showcases all the good things happening in a community? Your story about the jeans could be the lead story!

  7. I'm enamored by the way you crafted your sentence and paragraph lengths. As I reread trying to find what was so appealing to me about the way your Slice was written, I realized it was because of the lengths of the sentences & the paragraphs. It adds to the tension. Wow, it is beautifully crafted.

    I appreciate how you see the world. I'm glad you aren't giving up, but still see the world for the good it has.

    Thanks for sharing today,

  8. C-

    Is it wrong for me to second exactly what Ruth said (above)?

    See you on Friday morning,