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

Saturday, November 2, 2013

in which I CELEBRATE two of 22 Voices Strong

He was no longer saying the mantra.  He didn’t even stand up or acknowledge that everyone else was moving on around him.

I could feel him peeling himself away from us.  Away from our class.  I reached out.  Despite my desire to help, no matter how careful I was, the more I reached out to pull him back inside the circle of voices, the further I pushed him over the edge. 

It wasn’t until the other students got fed up with his distance, with his disruption that there was a breakthrough. 

It began with, “Mrs. Rush are you going to let him have it?  Because if you don’t, I think I might explode at him.”

I paused.  Smiled.  Remained centered.  And answered, “You know, I’ve learned that I have nothing to gain by losing it, by lecturing, by getting angry.  I cannot control his behavior any more than you can.  He has to make the choice.  I am confident he will come around.  However, this is your class too.  And, in the meantime, if you have something to say, please do so.  Do not get yourself in trouble in the process, though.  You know where the line is and how not to cross it.”

She sighed, “No, I am ok.”

I continued class.

He continued being disruptive.  Widening the chasm between where he was and where we were.

She seethed.  And burst.  She turned on him, “Why are you being so disrespectful?  Mrs. Rush is not asking that much of you and you are just being plain rude.  For no reason.”

A light bulb went on over her head in that moment.  I could almost hear her last words, for no reason, echo through her head.

“Well, I mean,” she sputtered, “if there is something going on at home and you are upset, well then that’s cool, I get it, but if not, there is no reason to be acting like this.”

He suddenly became a flower bending towards the sunlight of her words.  Perhaps the chasm hadn’t shrunk, but something like a bridge was beginning to be formed across it. 

She read his face.  She saw straight into his heart.  She got him to talk. 

On Tuesday, he stepped up to lead the mantra. 


  1. Christy, I am always in awe of the way you shape your words. Your pen shares your gentle ways with students that grabs my heart. Your passions to reach kids is the heart of you. A bridge you create daily with your students is powerful. I so wish my kids could have had you in class.

  2. I hope that you are collecting these 22 strong voices stories and forming them into a book.

  3. Terje is right. The love, the passion for your Voices Strong kids shines when you write about them. This needs to be a book. I know how much of YOU you put into this class, but isn't it amazing when your passion for this class transfers to students and they care as much as you do...

  4. What a powerful moment! You have the touch to make such a difference in lives. I don't mean just your students, but also everyone who reads your words.

  5. This “You know, I’ve learned that I have nothing to gain by losing it, by lecturing, by getting angry. I cannot control his behavior any more than you can. He has to make the choice." is the key. I believe you could share with beginning teachers and they could learn much from just this post, Christy. It isn't ever about the power, but about empowerment. I'm so glad you shared, and hope, like others above, you will find a way to share further.

  6. Such a powerful post! I love the power in these three sentences - "She read his face. She saw straight into his heart. She got him to talk." I was so fearful when I started reading because I remember this young man. I'm looking forward to reading a book of your stories someday.

  7. Beautiful. This is the one word I can use to describe your writing lately. It quenches my thirsty soul. Thank you.