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Southlake Style

Carroll Educators Get Powerful Reminder

Oct 12, 2011 02:28PM ● By Mike

by Dr. David Faltys

Emma Stone as "Skeeter" in the hit move THE HELP.Growing up as a child, I recall a phrase that was often repeated, but held little truth. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

You’ve probably heard it or said it yourself, but you may not have ever stopped to think about its meaning. Catchy perhaps, but untrue all the same.

Bullying was probably as prevalent then as it is now, but new technologies have created an environment where our children rarely escape hurtful words. With social networking sites, texting, Twitter and more, the words used to describe a child can be biting and devastating and they can linger long after the locker room lights are dimmed and the last bell rings. Any parent like me that has heard a teary-eyed child recount hurtful words said about them knows the power those words hold over that child.

Words can and do hurt – that’s really the message behind our Rachel’s Challenge program. In its third year, Rachel’s Challenge is a K-12 program inspired by 17-year-old Rachel Scott, one of the victims of the Columbine school shootings. But it was Rachel’s life, and not her death, that made a difference to the people who knew her. You see, Rachel understood the importance of relationships – of being kind and compassionate. She knew how a simple act of kindness could change the world. Rachel Scott knew that words can hurt. So much so that in her own personal writings she pleaded with the world to start a chain reaction of kindness that could be modeled for all. She extended a kind word and hand of friendship to many people the world would label as “different.” Our year three emphasis for this program is “Change Begins With Me.”

As educators, we want to be sure our children feel safe, welcomed, and loved at all times. It makes me sad to think that bullying still occurs and that it most often occurs out of the sight or range of caring adults. We know that words can hurt and they can have a powerful effect on our children. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy of the opposite kind, each spoken word can pierce a child’s heart and mind, puncturing and wounding the self-esteem – sometimes doing irreparable damage.

Tell a child he is stupid and soon he’ll begin to believe it. But tell a child he is kind and smart and important. . .well, he’ll begin to believe that, too.

I was especially reminded of that truth recently as four of our campuses joined for a professional development experience at The Harkins Theater in Southlake. Paid for by our corporate We Care sponsors, this learning activity involved a special educators’ viewing of the movie, The Help. The Help is a deeply moving movie that also includes moments of humor, but mostly messages of hope.

If you haven’t seen The Help yet, I suggest you go. Throughout the film we are reminded of the power our words and our actions have on others – especially on children. We are also reminded of the importance of nurturing strong relationships – connections with others that help all of us become better people. . .better together.

In Carroll ISD, we value relationships. In fact, it’s one of our core values. We want our teachers, our administrators, and our support staff to be role models and mentors for our students. We want them to connect with children on a daily basis much like Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minnie do in the movie. This unlikely trio forms a sisterhood that transcended the social standards or rules of their time. Together, they changed their community.

Set in Mississippi in the 1960s -a time of great racial tension - The Help is a heart-warming story of the African American women who served as maids and nannies for white families. These women had strong connections to the children they helped raise and the power of these relationships emerges throughout the film. During the course of the story we see the very worse and the very best in people.

Our staff – teachers and support personnel alike – were touched by the movie’s message. I, too, was deeply moved. Described as a film filled with “poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change.” And that’s exactly what we want to empower our Dragons to do – create positive change in the world around them.

With a focus this year on relationships and The Power Of One, we want to remind our staff and our students that one Dragon can make a difference. That time invested in people – in developing strong relationships and connections – is time well spent. That kindness and compassion ought to be the norm and that bullying of any kind will not be tolerated.

The Help professional development activity served as a great reminder for our staff. What better message could we impart to our kids than to remind them: “You are kind; you are smart; you are important.”

It’s a great time to be a Carroll Dragon.