Be that Teacher!

Wise Teacher
I’ve had some marvelous teachers throughout my educational journey, and I’ve had some that were unmemorable. Mr. Gange is #1 on the amazing list. He brought chemistry to life for me in 8th grade with Table of Elements game style quizzes and team challenges. Everyone in class could break down a chemical formula with confidence and ease, even Todd*, the student who refused to make eye contact or talk to a single teacher. I never had a teacher like Mr. G before or since. Students loved him for being original and thoughtful, and I appreciated him for giving me a lesson on human potential.
According to my shallow 8th grade girl perception, Todd must have been lacking intellectually. Everyone for years could see his red F(s) or the discreet manner teachers would fold his quizzes and exams, as if to whisper loudly, “I will spare you the embarrassment.” He never really spoke much but seemed to scream with his whole being, “I hate school!” No one messed with him. He had physical power and talent unparalleled in gym class and at the neighborhood basketball courts. As wonderful fun Mr. G’s class was, and how to this day I have a love of science, it was the transformation of Todd in Mr. G’s class that taught me something profound. I will never forget the first time Todd spoke in class to answer a question. I think the moment froze because we could not believe he had raised his hand and then answered correctly. Instead of oozing praise all over him, Mr. G gave him a quick, “correct” and moved on. Hindsight tells me, Mr. G was doing internal back flips because he just reached the unreachable. A wonderful beginning occurred that day. Todd came alive in Mr. G’s class. He smiled; he participated and became a contributing team member. I charge Todd’s metamorphosis to the man, Mr. G, himself, a gifted teacher who brought enthusiasm and joy to the process of learning. I learned my basic chemistry but witnessed a human’s potential rise. I am grateful for the experience in knowledge and will never forget Todd’s smile while learning.
I encourage you to be that teacher this year! The one who can reach the unreachable. You may never know what other students you bring along the way. Share the encouragement with others and good luck with the new school year.

*Todd is an alias.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Oklahoma Swept Away

OklahomaA class 5 tornado ripped through Oklahoma leaving behind hundreds dead and injured. Although, the area is known for twisters this time of year, the deadly force and size of yesterday’s storm has left communities in complete distress with neighborhoods leveled to piles of rubble.
Regular folks like you and me, going to work and school will not be returning to their families. It is yet another reminder of how precious life and loved ones are, and at any given moment it may be our last. May we be respectful of those who have lost family and friends, by treating ours with grace and appreciation. Today, choose to acknowledge the beauty of a fellow human being and engage with the intention to connect with one another. With respect, we extend our thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/us/tornado-oklahoma.html?pagewanted=2

Respect the Apology

Why in the world is it so hard to say, “I am sorry?” I’m not a big fan of speaking the phrase, since it implies, somehow, I was in the wrong. Who likes to be wrong? Our roles as parents and educators can impede courageous moments to admit fault, to our charges, since we are coming from an automatic place of position. We are the authority figure and while this position should be respected, our power can be misused at times, with thoughtless acts that require an apology. We may think, it’s inconsequential or unnecessary, but our behavior will be modeled in our homes and classrooms. If we would like to see our students, without prompting, immediately and sincerely apologize to others, then we need to show them how it is done. We are the leaders and if we want our children and students to display integrity and know genuine connection, we need to apologize for our wrongs, even the accidental ones, and ask for forgiveness. You know the beautiful moment a child’s eye brightens over knowledge and joy. The same extraordinary flash occurs when we validate our children, and display respect for their being, giving them the choice to accept our misdeeds and decide if forgiveness should be rendered. The link below details the respect of a real apology and how to make one. Enjoy!
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

60 Bystanders

The realities of the case in Steubenville, Ohio, where two football players allegedly raped a 16 year old girl are unfolding, in the second day of testimony being heard today. Reviewing the articles, pictures, posts and video surrounding this horrifying event has brought me to a perplexing place. According to a news story released early this morning (see link below) there are 60 possible witnesses between the defense and prosecution. 60 potential individuals who could have attempted to intervene on behalf of the girl and even the boys. Instead, there was a flurry of pictures taken (conveniently deleted) and voyeurs, to what is now a cataclysm. No one was courageous enough to intervene? Really – 60 people?!! Instead, we watch young men repulsively comment on video to what he feels is hysterical – rape. The details coming out of this tragic situation flow like a Lifetime movie, except, this is a real life nightmare for three young people. Self-destructing choices continued to fall like beastly dominos and yet bystanders continued to watch, and click, and post for their amusement. We must encourage, and educate our young people to make self-respecting choices that are carried out under any situation, and to move to action because; it is the right thing to do.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/trial-to-begin-in-ohio-hs_n_2866339.html

Art Imitates Life

Art often imitates life and often reveals more than subject matter to social issues like bullying and permits purveyors of any medium to “feel” the people, places, and experiences of which we would otherwise lack real understanding.
Art in its many forms can reach and teach, unlike typical lectures or well- intentioned speeches, with incredible power. Watching the movie, Bully, will bring you to tears and have you hurting for the children and their families. Lady Gaga’s lyrics for “Born this Way” encourage her Twitter followers–over 19 million young people around the globe–to accept the unique individuals they are becoming. Multi-media showcases like You Will Rise Project can make one cringe over the brutal truth of a picture. From White Plains, an Off-Broadway production, gives insight into the life-long consequences a bully experiences while attempting to redeem himself, and the simple clear messages of stick-figure drawings by first and second graders during a Turning Stone Moment beacon the reality that children are capable of understanding the power in their actions and the effect those actions can have on another human being.
Art is a language that communes with the inner person and brings forth the emotion and drive to make change happen. It is the therapy we grasp when simple lines of communication cannot render the message or when the pain is so deep our voices become mute.
Unlock the voices of our students, our children, our future by equipping them with the tools that allow them to make self-empowering choices and positive decisions, to gain greater control over their lives, and to give them the freedom to express and explore their thoughts. Please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com for more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process.
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Coach Matt

There is never a lack of material to discuss regarding choices, considering that everything we do or don’t do is a choice. At times we can focus on those questionable choices with ease and take for granted positive choice making. Sometimes the material walks through your front door after a soccer game and eventually graces the pages of an article or blog. This particular article entry is influenced by my 11 year old son, Shawn* and the perspective he asked his impulsive mother to reflect on.
*Not his real name, but he thoroughly enjoyed renaming himself as did my husband, Carter and additional sons, Nicky and Joseph.
Anticipating Shawn’s return from his first indoor soccer game of the season, I opened the door and noticed Coach Matt’s car in my driveway. I was unable to attend the game and wanted details. Yes, I am one of those soccer moms, largely due to the immense respect I have for Coach Matt and all of the players on Shawn’s team, and considering the jagged journey traveled through the years.
This team lost games like it was their job! As parents on the sidelines, we were running out of encouraging slogans and wanted them to perhaps just tie one game and that would be a triumph. We celebrated the little victories when a player could beat another player to the ball or if our players were in their correct positions. We understood that losing every Sunday was character- building but also wanted to see them have the joy of winning. In hindsight, I think we, the parents, wanted the win a little more than our kids because– although they were defeated– they never became deflated! That mindset of keeping their heads held high during adversity has been inspiring. Well, that team was a few seasons ago. With a never- quit or give -in attitude, they have gone on to tie a few games and win many.
Shawn and Greg, Coach’s son, were beet red, sweaty and quite excited sharing the details of their first win of the winter season. “It all went very well until the end,” Coach said. What in the world could have gone wrong, I wondered. As I stood on my porch, I listened to the two boys and Coach unfold a pathetic story of poor sportsmanship, bullying, and physical confrontation by the opposing coaching staff. I immediately wanted to blast that coach, have him removed from coaching, and point out his poor choices. Then, Shawn asked me to write about Coach Matt as an example of a positive role model, one who made self- empowering choices, while keeping in mind that ten young men were looking to see how their coach would react. Thank you, Shawn. I was so wrapped up in the offensive behavior of adults, which disappoints and shocks me all at once, that I was missing the wonderful example that my son and an entire team of boys had before them.
Coach Matt, thank you for pausing for a moment and not engaging in what seems to be commonplace brawl behavior in sports. Thank you for choosing to be a gentleman with respect for yourself, others and the children in your care. Thank you for choosing a spirit of success despite loss. Thank you for teaching through your behavior more than the game of soccer. Winning coaches are a dime a dozen, but coaches that keep the integrity of relationship over the win have lasting life influences molding children into gracious adults.
Thank the Coach Matts in your life and in the lives of the children you care for. They are giving more than mere instruction to a childhood game. They are sharing the game of life. Please, share this article with a coach whom you respect.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice