LONG POST but it is an important message. I made this card for my sister. Let me tell you why.
There are no names used in this account so please forgive all the non-specific identifiers and “my sister”repetitive use. I am trying to just share something that is all too prevalent in our current society that needs to be addressed and not point fingers or be what I am so upset about.
This is a hard one for me to write. I always thought, as someone that was bullied horribly in elementary school, that it was just a thing kids did. I moved to a different state at the end of elementary and didn’t have much of a bullying problem in my new school.
My sister is being bullied. The sad thing is, I guess it can go on even after school years. Let me paint a little picture for you.
My fantastic sister left a lucrative career to become a teacher. It was her passion. For 18 years she has given up a lifestyle that would have allowed her to live a MUCH easier life. Why? She loves kids and not just any kids but the middle-year kids. That’s right, those awkward, sometimes smelly, coming into hormones and dramatic middle schoolers. This is where some of the absolute most terrible bullying is reported. (Oh, the stories I could tell.) Even when she was a single mom with four of her own she gave all she could to her students. Many long nights of grading and planning outstanding lessons. She is the teacher always with an open door and stays to run the after-school care, to ensure kids are in a quality program, teaching summer school investing her own funds to give the kids the best opportunities for high school and beyond. You get the idea.
So imagine my heart, when I get a call and she is literally sobbing on the side of the road unable to drive because a mother in her class has begun attacking her. May I mention this “mother” is sure everything (including a B her child received on an assignment) is because my sister is a horrible teacher? In the following months, this woman took it upon herself to verbally attack my sister’s amazing reputation (did I mention my sister has been the teacher of the year. TWICE)? Did I also mention this person harrassed my sister via email and phone conversations demanding responses on the weekends and holidays all this leaving my sister in a mental and emotional crisis? Well, she has, and the worst part, she is a teacher, in my belief, a teacher that wants my sister’s job. See my sister teaches highly gifted students. A desirable position that requires many additional hours of training and certifications.
At the end of last year, my sister broke down on the phone and I felt her pain so deep in my chest, I cried with her. She had done everything right. Taken the steps to ensure the student was best cared for and yet this mother continued to drive her misery onto my sister. Relentless, harassment, threats, and ganging up with other educators to try and push her out. As the summer approached and the light at the end of the tunnel one might say, my sister, told me she may not be able to return to school because of the physical, mental and emotional toll from the last semester. Have you ever seen someone physically ill from being bullied? I have, it’s not pretty. It’s gut-wrenching!
This saddens me greatly. In our state, the teacher shortage is so severe, that you don’t even have to be a teacher to teach. As long as you are in college for education you can have a physical classroom and be teaching. My sister has served the children of her district for 18 years! Never one complaint or reprimand until this woman. This bully.
With her class in mind, my sister returned. She loves those kids. She wants nothing but success for them. She always goes the extra mile. I’ve witnessed all she has done through the years. When there was a lack of interest from parents to chaperone several field trips, she would beg me to go. I always would because she wanted the kids to see and live the experiences she was teaching in the classroom. She worked many days from 6 am (in class) to after 8 or 9 pm on campus only to return home and spend the rest of her night planning and grading papers.
Now, let’s move forward to this year, she has been attacked again. A student in her class proclaimed, “Ms. XXXXXX is my favorite teacher!” when called into the office due to an incident regarding my sister trying to show compassion and caring about the child’s feelings at what the child thought was bullying. Asking the young person what was said and trying to make sure she had the facts right my sister tried to explain that bullying is never okay, but we need to be sure it’s not miscommunication. She spoke with the child about the differences we all have in what we believe.
The child told her mother what had happened and the mother, another teacher in the same program as the previous child’s mother, went not to my sister for clarification, (because you know, middle school children NEVER get dramatic for attention) not to the principle, no she marched into the superintendent’s office and demanded my sister be fired. And began her campaign of terror.
Giving a lesson (district mandated I might add), on how to give a peer review. The other children told the child in question that Ms. XXXXX is talking about you in class. (Which she was not. It was a lesson on how to be kind in your words but still be able to give constructive criticism — I mean middle-schoolers are never overly dramatic — never.) My sister was again attacked. Meetings and complaints all require her to write responses and spend time on things that are not benefiting the child. HELLO, THIS. IS. NOT. GOOD. for anyone!
The call went like this, “Oh Erika, it’s starting again! Oh no, I don’t think I can handle it for another year.” the grief in her voice was so prevalent I felt my heart break. She was so sick to her stomach that she couldn’t go to work.
Here we are. She now has another year of writing responses being attacked and who protects her? Not the school administration. NOPE, they are worried about lawsuits and making the MOTHER happy. I have news for ALL of you, THIS IS BULLYING! To attack a person that is trying to give the children the best education possible to YOUR kids… it’s wrong! You are an adult. ACT LIKE ONE. Try talking to the teacher, or the adult involved you probably don’t have the full story if it came from a child POV! Not because your child is a liar, but because children are very self-centered and they don’t usually see the other side of the situation. You don’t have to “see the manager!”
It is okay to protect your kids. Just don’t be a bully! It’s okay to intervene if your child can’t get a problem resolved! You can be a good parent and still be FAIR!
I don’t know what is going to happen. My guess is she will keep being the punching bag for these people. I will keep getting calls from my amazing sister crying and hurt because she is in a position of service. I will need to keep trying to build up what these women tear down. I will see her do things for these kids that their parents don’t know or even appreciate. The administration will let her. Honestly, the administration is the parent of the bully which is a bit of a bully itself. The administration is cowardly! Stand up for your teachers! They are working twice as hard with such little pay that goes back to the school in the form of supplies and teaching materials. If you ever wanted to know why more teachers quit teaching in the first 3-5 years. Let me tell you, I know.
If you are a bully, to your kids, your spouse, your kid’s teachers, the employees you manage, the barista at Starbucks, or the clerk at the retail store, think about this… You may be feeling powerless, you are hiding in your anger. To feel better about yourself if you are hurting others. Please, seek a mental health professional for your anger issues. I don’t want you to have that hurt.
Am I angry? You bet I am. My sister is one of the best people I know! I am hopeful that if you are a bully you can see that you don’t have to bully. You can be a support to help find a solution without hurting others. If you have a child that is a bully. Help them it doesn’t go away bullies teach their kids to be bullies and to bully. We don’t need that we need love.
That my friends, is why I made this card for my sister.
Thank you for reading and allowing me to vent my broken heart.