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May 1, 2019
Vol. 76
No. 8

Tell Me About

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What's the one thing you wish you could tell your teenage self, if you could go back in time?

Social-emotional learning
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Worry Less, Live More

Most of your worries will be a waste of your time and will rob you of so many wondrous joys in life. Even when bad things do happen, good will always have a way of coming from it. We become stronger in character and faith, we gain from new experiences, and we learn to love and appreciate what we have even more. So, worry less; live more.
Brad Ross, special education teacher, USD 465, Winfield, Kansas

What Status Quo?

I was a defiant teenager and very restless in school. I wish I could tell my teenage self that one day I would learn to channel that frustration into a fulfilling career in public education, challenging the status quo in a much more mature and productive manner!
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Meghan Raftery, then and now.
Meghan Raftery, director, curriculum and training, Defined Learning, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Just Be You

As long as you are nice to others, don't worry about trying to fit in and be what others want you to be or think what others want you to think. Getting along with others doesn't have to mean being just like them. Learn to disagree respectfully and be open to how others think.
Pippa Fineran, instructional coach, OABCIG, Ida Grove, Iowa

On Risk-Taking and Humility

We learn a lot from our mistakes, so don't be afraid to make them. Often, the person who doesn't make mistakes is the person who isn't trying, so better to try and know you might fail then to not try at all. Also, even if you are right, you don't need to "make your case" every time. If you pick every battle that comes along (even if it is just "for the principle of it"), you run the risk of alienating people, and you don't know which people will be important in your life in the future.
Chad T. Lower, curriculum coordinator, Laurel Springs School, Ojai, California

Advocate for Yourself

Similar to other African American parents, my mother made me attend a high school that enrolled predominantly white students. If I could, I would tell my teenage self to ask more questions about what the school had to offer, who I needed to talk to for help with college admissions, and how I also might have participated in the extra-curricular activities that nourished the talents and skills of many of my white peers. During my junior year, I remember seeing students rehearsing for a play and I thought, I could do that—but somehow I didn't know the opportunity existed. I knew what I was supposed to do in school, but I didn't know what a school could do for me, especially a school of such privilege and wealth.
My mother had done her part to get me enrolled; it was up to me to advocate for myself. Nothing in my background had prepared me to see myself as worthy of the opportunities the school provided. My teenage self, like all other teenage selves, needed to tell herself to never be afraid to ask for help or to seek advice that would help her realize possibilities and dreams in high school.
Cheryl Wilson, faculty, Reach Institute for School Leadership, Oakland, California

The Five-Minute Rule

If something won't matter in five years, then don't spend more than five minutes thinking or agonizing over it.
Glenn Scheuermann, band director, East Baton Rouge Parish Public Schools, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Lessons Learned

Teen challenges and dilemmas of today won't mirror mine, but the lessons I've learned just might. (1) Your best friend will forever be your best friend today, tomorrow, and always. (2) The teachers that encouraged you to do your best and genuinely cared about you are difference makers for the better. (3) Pursue what you love, including your significant other. (4) Empathy trumps kindness.
Melanie Mueller, director of research, assessment, and evaluation, Papillion La Vista Community Schools, Papillion, Nebraska

Trust Yourself!

Just because you do not have the role models that emulate it, the words to speak it, and the community to nurture it does not mean that your inner voice is wrong. For those of us that rarely hear or see ourselves reflected in the society in which we live, having belief in yourself is an especially hard trait to maintain, especially at a young age.
Wendy Thomas, literacy and ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.

Find Your Inner Athlete

Physical fitness will affect your whole life. It will influence not only your health, but also the activities you will enjoy, your self-confidence, your friendships, your relationships, your happiness, and the length and quality of your life. It doesn't matter what medical challenges you faced growing up. It doesn't matter if you were the last one picked for teams. Find sports at which you can succeed and do your very best to excel in them. After a lifetime of believing I couldn't do it, I have become an athlete at 61-years-old. I wish I would have done this as a teenager because it would have added so much to my life.
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At 61, Gene Wicks takes 3rd place in a local 5K race, something that would've surprised his 17-year-old self.
Gene Wicks, science teacher, Sault Area High School and Career Center, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

Pep Talk

You are a leader, and you are on course to help a lot of people—teenagers, and young adults—make the right choices about their life and the directions they should go in. Don't stop trying, don't quit, you're almost there! That girl that you're all into, she is OK, but this is not the time to start a family. Your dad may not be around, and your mom may be raising you and your three siblings all alone on welfare and public assistance and food stamps, but you're going to make it. You are angry sometimes for no reason and find yourself in trouble and occasionally suspended from school, but don't give up; you're going to be OK. Some of your friends are on drugs and cut school, but you're committed to finishing and not disappointing your mom; keep going, you're gonna make her proud!
Trust the heart you have for people and your desire for education and learning. Continue to build bridges and not walls with classmates, teachers, and people you meet. Look for the opportunities that are coming and jump on them.
Jeremiah Sumter Jr., principal, Roosevelt UFSD, Hempstead, New York

Love Your Body

Own your body. Do not allow other people to judge how fat or thin you are. I spent my teen years constantly dieting because I was so worried about how fat I looked, when I actually was a normal weight for my height. I even became bulimic for a couple years before I even knew what an eating disorder was. Now that I am 60 years old, I wish that I had appreciated my teen figure. I could have enjoyed junior and senior high school so much more if I weren't so self-conscious about my weight. How I would love to fit into those bell-bottoms again!
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Sixty-year-old Lorene Bossong wishes she could tell her teenage self not to worry so much about her weight.
Lorene Bossong, English department chair, Valley Stream Central High School District, Hicksville, New York

Be Bold

This will be, most certainly, the time in your life with the least amount of responsibilities. Enjoy that. Be afraid, but put yourself out there anyway. Yell, "Shut up!" to that voice in your head that calls you stupid and worthless; don't believe it when it says you can't do something or you aren't good enough. You might fail, but so what? You are young, you are capable, and you have your entire life in front of you.
Justin Bradford, director of special education, curriculum and instruction, and assessment, College Place Public Schools, College Place, Washington

Find Joy

I would advise enjoying the ride called high school. I did not take the time to enjoy the classes, opportunities, and clubs in high school. I was so focused on finishing that I missed enjoying the ride.
Rodney Walker, principal, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore, Maryland

Be Unique

I would tell my teenage self to celebrate what makes me unique instead of thinking there was something wrong with me because I didn't fit in. It never occurred to me as a teen that all that made me unique would be what made me feel so different than others. Listen to the voice inside of you and embrace your own unique thinking, expressions, gestures, and path.
Annmarie Hogan, assistant principal, PS 26, District 31, Staten Island, New York

Stick with Your Passion

You need to really understand yourself, your skill set, your passions as early as possible and never let anyone or anything dissuade you from them. You need to give all the time you can and all the effort you can to pursue your passions and develop your skill set.
Blessing Iwuchukwu, school administrator, Livingstone Excellent Schools, Kogi State, Nigeria

Go Rogue and Be a Renegade

The world is full of people who simply want an answer or want to impart their knowledge on you so you can be like them. Do not settle for being someone else or being like someone else. Do not settle for believing what others believe, simply because they tell you to believe it. Think in your own beautiful and unique way, solve problems as you see them, and revolutionize your own mind in order to innovate your world.
Christopher Motika, curriculum, instruction, and assessment director, SAU 53, Pembroke, New Hampshire

Avoid the Fear of Failure

Most highly successful people will tell you that they did not succeed at the first attempt to make it. Don't expect to be any different. Failure is a part of success. Failure is the teacher whose lessons last a lifetime. Turning your dreams into reality starts now.
Polly Hearn, middle school science teacher, Berlin Township School District, West Berlin, New Jersey

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