(with thanks to Middleweb for originally publishing this review)
“We try. We will always try. And also? We all matter- all of our voices rising for school safety, better resources for schools and teacher and students, etc. will help .....” - Nelba Márquez-Greene, tweet dated July 2, 2018.
Nelba Márquez-Greene is the founder of the Ana Grace Project, one of a variety of foundations and charities set up by Sandy Hook parents following the tragedy. Her ongoing advocacy for safer and more inclusive schools, her willingness to be vulnerable, her resilience, and her relentless work to bring about positive change in the world have led me to view her as a role model in my own ongoing work along the same lines. So when the idea arose that we might do a Twitter chat together on gun violence, I knew working with her was an amazing opportunity, one which I hoped many dozens of people would seize. We settled on the hashtag #SavingLivesChat, and if you click on this link, you should be able to scroll back and view the chat if you’d like.
I was the first to show up at today’s blood drive in my home town of Shelburne Falls. I sat patiently by the intake table checking my Twitter and Facebook feeds (and those of the school) on my phone as they finished getting everything ready to go. Ten or 15 minutes later, I was lying on a table listening as the donation specialist sang along to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” which was playing on the radio. I waited for the right moment to tell her that I taught Rock Band in my school, and the kids had chosen to do that song twice over the years, and she told me about her husband, “a real singer” in a metal band who was planning to participate in a benefit concert for suicide awareness this September. Moments later, “Titanium” came on the radio, and again we bonded as I told her about the time the middle school band was scheduled to do the song in a Winter Solstice Performance - and then Sandy Hook happened. We had to postpone that performance as everyone was just too raw and upset, but when the kids worked with my colleague Greg Snedeker and me to ready “Mistletoe” by Justin Bieber for performance with just one rehearsal, we pulled off what my colleague Karen Suchenski called “a Christmas miracle.” (see "Resolution" if you want to read more about this.)
Founded in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Sandy Hook Promise has worked with experts to develop four different in-school programs designed to help prevent gun violence. As summarized by Judith Coffey in a recent email to Sandy Hook Promise Leaders, they are:
When I first came to SBS,
Friday, May 18, 2018. All times Eastern time.
(Apparently, this title I thought was so creative has already been used by the X-Men. Credit to them for thinking of it first!)
It’s the time of year when my timelines fill up with people beginning to solicit and/or offer advice on “How to finish the year strong.” Of course, some schools still have about a month to go, but nonetheless as the weather finally warms up, thoughts turn inevitably to summer, to days at the beach or the pool splashing about in the water, to ice cream cones eaten as the sun sets and the air starts to cool off, to books as of yet unread, to hours spent just hanging around with friends. And for us, as the annual middle school trip to Six Flags (now held a week before graduation) is hours away, as Seniors wrap up IB exams and Ninth Graders, Sophomores, and Juniors prepare to take finals, that start to summer is tantalizingly close.
Dr. Richard Weissbourd opened his talk on “Raising Caring and Happy Children in a Challenging Time” by stating his primary worry is how we’ve elevated happiness and success and de-emphasized caring and empathy. When students were asked on a survey how important achievement, caring, and happiness were to them, about 50% prioritized achievement, 30% happiness, and 20% caring. Parents say they value caring over achievement but when their children were asked to rate their priorities, the kids felt their parents had the same breakdown of priorities as they did. Furthermore, when asked to rate parents as a group, parents themselves came up yet again with a similar breakdown except with some shift from caring to happiness. This disjunction between what parents say they believe and what kids (and other parents) perceive results from what Dr. Weissbourd calls the “rhetoric reality gap.”
Of course there was a point on the ride out to Boston where the kids were singing show tunes. How could there not be?! Singing “We raise a glass...” from “La Vie Bohème” at the top of their lungs, they all clinked their Dunkin’ Donut cups, their faces lit up by smiles.
It was a sunny morning in the early spring of 2017, and I woke up in a pretty good mood. The weather was decent, most of my clothes were still clean, I wasn't driving kids to community service, and we weren't expecting any visitors, so all in all it was one of those days when I could wear more or less anything I wanted to. I chose an Oxford shirt, a black sweater (to complement my nail polish), and my favourite purple and blue skirt.