Taking Steps…

Hi Friends!

It’s been a very long time since I last walked to school. This late winter morning, for the first time since the early 1970s, I bundled up in layers and headed out the door. I planned this walk several weeks ago and a windchill of 2o degrees would not deter my walk on this historic morning. I was taking important steps

The sun shone brightly as I stepped carefully over the icy patches on the sidewalks, detouring onto the snowy grass from time to time. It felt important, as though something BIG was about to happen! As I walked, I met up with friendly teenagers hurrying to their classes. I’m sure that they felt it, too. As I walked with one high school student, I told her that I was coming to school to ‘stand’ with all of the students and teachers… and she smiled and thanked me. Although I retired from teaching six years ago, there is still very important work to be done!

Of course, I was early… I’m always early! (“Anticipate the bell.” πŸ™‚ “Early is on time, on time is late!” πŸ™‚ ) These words still make me smile warmly as I reflect back upon my thirty-five happy years of teaching young children. β™₯ As I walked around the quiet neighborhood surrounding our local high school, my thoughts turned to my own school days, both as a student and a teacher. So much has changed over the years…

Today was the National School Walkout as students, young and old, across America raised their collective voices against the ongoing crisis of gun violence in our society. Today marks the heartbreaking one-month anniversary of the massacre of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. Massive student protests spread across our land beginning at 10:00 in each time zone. Organizers planned the National School Walkout to highlight “Congress’ inaction against the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.” I knew that I must stand with our students and their teachers on this day.

At 10:00, the school doors opened and hundreds of students walked out and assembled in front of their high school. They had planned ahead and many wore red and black. Many students carried hand-lettered signs. Their speeches lasted for 17 minutes, in remembrance of the 17 lives taken by gun violence in Florida. As I listened from a distance, my eyes filled with tears for all of the school children and their teachers across our nation who face fears for their safety in their classrooms. My heart swelled with pride for all of the young Americans who are taking steps to solve our national epidemic and to create a brighter future.

In between the speeches, there was much chanting,

individual voices of young men and women,

tomorrow’s leaders,

united to send a strong message to our lawmakers and leaders.

♦♦♦

Listen to their words…

“Enough is enough!”

β™’β™’β™’

“Congress is complacent.”

β™’β™’β™’

“We are the future voters.”

β™’β™’β™’

“We are the change!”

β™’β™’β™’

“Thoughts and prayers are NOT enough!”

β™’β™’β™’

Between their powerful chants, there were loud reminders to pick up contact information for our lawmakers, write letters, make phone calls, and send texts. Eighteen-year-olds were reminded to vote in our upcoming elections. After 17 minutes, the young protestors respectfully filed back through the school doors and went on with their studies. It was most definitely a powerful, teachable moment… one they are certain to carry with them into adulthood.

The gathering of community members who came to ‘stand’ with our high school students clapped with pride as we listened to their voices. Parents tried to explain to their preschoolers what the ‘big kids’ were doing today. I met other retired teachers who also came to show support. High school alumni shared their pride, as well. The tv news crew packed away their huge camera as the protest came to an end.

It feels like this is only a beginning for our nation! The March for Our Lives rally for school safety, on March 24th, is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of marchers to our nation’s capital.

Another round of National School Walkouts is planned for April 20th, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado.

Malala’s words give me much hope…

“One child, one teacher,

one book, one pen can change the world.”

 

I’ll keep taking steps as long as necessary.

Be the change!

β™‘ Dawn

 

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30 thoughts on “Taking Steps…

  1. Thank you, Dawn; for teaching, for walking, for showing up in the lives of young people, supporting them and giving us all hope. I know that school well and feel pride at its students and teachers, all participants in change and in the democratic process! One of the more meaningful actions I took in my life was being a voter registrar and registering students was a favorite activity.

    • Oh, Penny! I hoped that you would see this post. I know how much of your heart is in our schools! I’m fascinated by your role as a voter registrar and registering students as first time voters. πŸ™‚ A real life Social Studies lesson of great importance! Tonight I attended a most interesting AAUW meeting (as a guest) for a wonderful presentation on current trends in education. My heart will always be in the classroom! β™₯ Once a teacher… always a teacher. Yet I treasure every day of my ‘Renaissance’ with so many new opportunities to learn and new ways to make a difference. πŸ™‚

      Have you been in your garden yet, Penny? I’m hoping to begin garden keeping (clean up) on the milder days ahead. It’s very early, but I have a window of opportunity and can’t wait to play in the garden a bit! Warmest hugs, dear Penny! β™‘

      • AAUW is a wonderful organization and host some pretty insightful and amazing presentations. I’m sure it was an engaging one. You, my friend, are truly blossoming with each new day of your Renaissance.

        I have not, as yet, been in the garden, Dawn. I’m eager to get busy, but, also a bit overwhelmed as the fall clean-up did not happen this year. I have my work cut out for me, for certain, but, the daffodils are poking through and hope is in the air.

      • Penny, the meeting was filled with amazing women who were very curious about current trends and research in education. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Until now, I have only known AAUW through their wonderful Used Book Sale fundraiser each year. We love supporting this event every year! In the years to come, membership in this vibrant group might be another way that I can ‘give back’ to the community. Another sign of Spring is the annual Quilt Show (this weekend) at the old farmhouse just north of us. I’m hoping to stop by to admire the beautiful works of art! I always save my garden cleanup for Spring. So, it will all work out. Just pace yourself and enjoy time in the sunshine in small doses, my friend! Hope is definitely in the air. I can feel it! β™‘

      • I know some of the members and can attest to the strength of their character, commitment, and good deeds, Dawn. I think you would fit into AAUW quite nicely. πŸ™‚
        Thank you for mentioning the Quilt Show. I mean to go every year and miss it. I just put it on my calendar and will try to attend. I will be attending a luncheon near the Arb tomorrow and my car just might veer inside hoping to see some daffodils blooming, or maybe the crocus approaching Lake Marmo. πŸ™‚

      • Penny, enjoy all of your special outings! πŸ™‚ I hope the Daffodil Glade will welcome you with an abundance of golden sunshine! Happy weekend, my friend! β™‘

  2. It’s time to listen to the children. Such an important moment for your country. Likely most other countries look in puzzlement at many things going on in the States, but this one would be near the top of the list. How can it be OK for so many kids to be killed and so many kids to fear being in school? I’m glad you were there Dawn, and I’m glad you’re sharing this with us. It’s time to take a stand.

    How are you doing with the book club? I felt like I was racing through last time doing one chapter a month. This time I’m having trouble keeping up πŸ™‚ But I’m enjoying going deeper and it feels like things were added to the book since I read it last!

    We’re moving into autumn after the hottest summer ever – and it’s still warmer than usual. I love summer, but autumn is beautiful too. Enjoy getting back into your garden whenever that happens. xox

    • So very true, Vicky! Children can often see things with such clarity and simplicity, in ways that adults cannot. Young hearts and minds see the truth! They believe that anything is possible. I am so proud of this generation of students! They are raising their voices for much needed, long overdue change. “Enough is enough!” were the first words our local students chanted yesterday morning. On the evening news, students all across America were chanting the exact same message! It gives me so much hope that they can make their voices heard by our lawmakers. It breaks my heart and angers me that gun violence is such a prevalent part of our lives today, in our schools and in our neighborhoods. Words cannot describe the feeling that every teacher has during ‘armed intruder’ drills. Just imagine turning off the lights, locking the classroom door, gathering the children to sit quietly, out of sight and in complete silence, window shades closed. The only sounds are the pounding of our hearts as we wait. Reassuring the children that we are safe, but knowing that anything could happen at any moment. Enough is enough! Asking teachers to carry guns is most definitely not the answer. Enough is enough! We must raise our voices for change at the voting booth during our March and November elections.

      It has been so challenging to make time for the Book Club this year. I really miss our discussions there and must make time to visit next week! I have been writing Morning Pages and always learn so much from them, but I haven’t been writing daily. My Artist Dates are going very well and fill me with inspiration for papercrafting and watercoloring! I’ve been bundling up and doing lots of Solo Walks. I’m really looking forward to the arrival of Springtime (my favorite season) with daily walks in nature to celebrate the earth’s reawakening! Currently, I’m working through chapter two. Taking time to work through each of Julia Cameron’s tasks is priority for me this year. I also felt very rushed last year and wanted to dig much deeper. I think we are on the best path, Vicky. It takes time to read, write, think,… and grow. But it’s so worth it! Writing Memoir is still my number one goal and I know that I will make it happen. It has been very helpful for me to keep track of my Artist’s Way activities in my 2018 Self-Care Journal. It’s a lovely record of the ways I am nourishing my creative heart and soul, tracking my healthy habits, counting my blessings, logging my sleep, daily steps, and workouts. My journal also shows just how much time I dedicate to my family and friends. This new daily habit of bullet journaling has been a wonderful, wonderful addition to my life. I think of it as a gift to myself… because that’s exactly what it feels like! πŸ™‚

      I’ve been hearing so much about New Zealand’s hottest summer ever, Vicky! Dear friends shared photos via What’s App during their recent trip to your beautiful country. They mentioned the heat and humidity so often. As we await a warm, breath of Springtime, you will especially enjoy a cool breath of Autumn! Wishing you happy, creative days, dear Vicky! Thanks so much for visiting with us today! β™‘

  3. ❀️❀️❀️❀️❀️
    I love your post! I was so happy to see a local article highlighting Oak Park’s students’ participation! Change is possible!

    Carol

    • Oh, thank you, Carol! We are kindred spirits, dear heart. I saw the Oak Park students walkout on the news last night. So proud of them for working toward change! I agree. Change is possible! The time is now! Enough is enough…
      Heartfelt thanks for taking the time to visit today, Carol! Have an amazing day! Sending warmest hugs your way. Namaste. β™‘

  4. So many school systems banned any planned walk outs, and threatened expulsion if students participated. How nice to see a school administration plan wisely. What an educational moment! And it was lost on so many. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. As a teenager of the 60’s We baby boomers may know something about protest! πŸ˜€ it warms my heart and gives me hope that this generation of children are willing to stand up and make change happen. It will be a long slow process, I pray they won’t lose hope. If they stick to it change will be inevitable.
    On another note…it is soon spring and I am so ready to get out and garden. I have more big landscaping plans. ❀️
    Thanks for sharing your experience here with us.

    • It was well-organized, Chris. Security was in place around the perimeter to keep the students safe during the walkout. They gathered in a large group just outside the school doors. I was hoping for a larger group of neighbors to show our support for the students. Hopefully, that will grow over time. On local message boards, I noticed an interesting option for the students who chose not to walk out. They were encouraged to “Walk Up” yesterday ~ to walk up to someone sitting alone at lunch at and introduce themself, to walk up to a teacher to thank them, to walk up and thank other school employees, and to walk up to and start a conversation with someone they would like to learn more about. I love this idea! Feelings of isolation can often be a real piece of our gun violence crisis. Just walking up and reaching out can be a very important first step. Both Walkouts and Walk-ups give me hope! They are valuable, teachable moments. There were a few news reports here of school districts that prohibited participation here, too.

      We definitely grew up watching protestors on our streets and college campuses. They influenced my life profoundly at a very early age. I share your prayers that change can and will happen. I feel very strongly that supporting the students with our voices and our steps can help facilitate change. Our lawmakers and leaders are watching,… so we must continue to find ways to come together for real change. Perhaps our youngest Americans can lead the way with their voices!

      We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Springtime here, Chris! I can hear the garden calling my name. I’m planning to do a bit of (very early) garden clean up this weekend. Can’t wait to hear more about your big landscaping plans! It will be so exciting to see your herb garden wake up in the warm Texas sunshine! Thank you for always being here, Chris. You always bring great ideas to our conversation here. Sending sunny hugs across the miles! β™‘

  5. This is such a wonderful thing you did to lend support to these students. I read in our paper that some students in our schools out this way were ridiculed by their teachers! I do feel hopeful, though, that things are finally going to change concerning this country’s “gun culture.”

    • That truly concerns me, Cathy! These are valuable, teachable moments. Exercising our right of free speech in a safe way seems like a good thing! Honoring the 17 young lives lost is commendable. Ridicule will never be a step toward a solution. Encouraging safe, open communication, especially when there are opposing views, is critical to solve problems of any kind.

      Standing in front of the high school in support of the students felt like just a small step. However, as I walked to school with a student, and spoke to a security guard on campus, a police officer, teachers from the high school, other retired teachers, and a preschool parent, I mentioned to each one why I was there to support our students. I felt hopeful that they would mention to others,”Hey, a retired second grade teacher from the neighborhood walked over to support our kids today.” I want the students to feel this support from people they have never met. I am very hopeful that taking little steps can lead to big change. We are all in this together. “Enough is enough.”
      Many thanks for your thoughtful words, Cathy. I always look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thank you so much for being here and joining in the conversation today! β™‘

  6. Brava, Dawn! I was downtown at work, no schools nearby, but my colleagues and I gathered at 10 to pray and discuss what actions we could take. I recently learned about this organization: http://donotstandidlyby.org/ It takes a very, very different approach: working with gun manufacturers to improve gun safety. Hard to get my mind around, but I’m going to read more about it. It also targets the manufacturers financial health, in a similar way to how apartheid was addressed.

    • Ginnie, what a meaningful way to support the students! You always have such wise, wonderful ideas. This morning, I learned the reason why there weren’t many supporters at our high school yesterday to watch the students’ speeches. The school administration asked the parents not to attend, to help control the crowds and keep everyone safe. That was a wise decision to help keep everyone safe! I haven’t heard of this organization, but I will check it out to learn more. Thanks so much for letting us all know, Ginnie. Enjoy our sunny day. I can hear the birds singing outside as I write. Spring is on the way! β™‘

  7. I’m just reading the info on http://donotstandidlyby.org/ – this is an amazing group with a very smart strategy: 40% of the guns purchased are with taxpayer dollars (25% for military, 15% for police), and are for the protection of those taxpayers. So those purchases should have a vested interest in having safe technology for guns as well as gun dealers who don’t sell to “straw” purchasers, etc.

    • Thanks so much for sharing the link, Ginnie! We will check out this organization to learn all that we can. There must be a workable solution to our gun violence crisis in America. The students are depending on Congress and our leaders to make necessary changes. Thank you for always being here, Ginnie! I look forward to all that you share. β™‘

  8. Dawn, I am so proud of these youngsters. I hope they can accomplish what others have failed at. I was beginning to give up hope after Sandyhook facilitated little change. Thank you for supporting these students, wish I could have been there to walk with you.
    xo,
    Karen

    • Oh, Karen! I share your pride and echo your encouraging words! It would be so nice to gather kindred spirits in support of our students. I’m certain that there will be many opportunities to honor their message in the days, weeks, and months to come. The students are speaking from their hearts,“Enough is enough.” Sending sunny thoughts from here to California, Karen! I’m so glad that you stopped to visit today! β™‘

  9. Dearest Dawn, I am teary eyed reading your steps of yesterday. Thank you for standing with those brave children as they will make a change. I feel it in my soul that they will. All the children of today are the change that we need so badly. We must stand with each other against the violence that’s crippling our society. If the adults don’t do something, I know our young adults will! I am so proud of each and every child that took a stand yesterday. It’s a long, long process to change what’s happening in our culture. Thank you for your thoughtful post, dear friend of change. β™₯

    • Kindred spirits, Martha Ellen! I was teary eyed as I wrote this post. You have beautifully expressed how so many of us have been feeling. I’m sure that you have had too many heartbreaking conversations with Samuel about the news reports over the past several years. My dear friend, Iris, was watching live coverage on CNN, in Germany, during the Walkouts. She told me that students in Israel and Nigeria were also standing in support of the American students. I feel so proud and grateful for the brave stand our young people are taking… and I am hopeful. Sending huge hugs, dear heart! β™‘

      • Dawn, I wanted to get back to you and share our dinner table discussion about your post. We are all so proud of you for standing with the future leaders of our country. Samuel was quite touched by your involvement and said you are a “Warrior”. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you again, my friend. β™₯

      • Oh, my goodness, Martha Ellen! I feel so honored that you took a bit of your family time to talk about this post together. β™₯ Thanks to both you and Grayden for your wonderfully encouraging words! Please tell Samuel that I will always hold his beautiful, empowering word in my heart! Thank you so much, Samuel!! πŸ™‚ I hope that we will all meet one day so that I can thank Samuel in person! Dedicated teachers truly believe in the future!! That’s why we dedicate our careers and our lives to helping children, inspiring them to become leaders in their chosen fields one day, and to make a difference in our world! Just taking small steps can be a powerful beginning to real change.
        Wishing you all a happy weekend, dear Martha Ellen! Hope the sun is shining brightly over your hearth and home! β™‘
        P.S. I’m going to write Samuel’s word in my Gratitude Journal tonight! πŸ™‚

  10. Dawn, you make my heart sing. How wonderful of you to show up at your former school to support the children. They are our future, and for once gun reform seems possible thanks to their intelligence and activism. For the first time in my life I feel like change will happen.

    My 17 year old son wrote to me when we were traveling in New Zealand, asking if he had my support in organizing the walkout at his school He made me so proud. He organized the rally, met with school officials and classmates, and made sure they remained respectful and true to their mission of honoring the 17 lives lost while promoting gun reform. How I wish I could have been there. It’s heartening to see our *future voters* take a stand.

    Thank you for showing up, and thank you, too, for being the kind of educator this country needs. I’m sure every one of your students adored you. xo

    • Heartfelt thanks, dear Alys! I actually walked over to a high school in our neighborhood for yesterday’s Walkout. I don’t know anyone there, but I had a strong feeling that the students would be taking part in the Walkout. I didn’t know if they would be participating at the wonderful school in a nearby town where I taught. I’m very curious to to learn if special activities were planned for the National School Walkout in Pre-K through 5th Grade. I will visit ‘my’ school in a few days. I think it would be so interesting to visit different schools to show support during each rally planned in the future! More opportunities will come…

      Alys, I have such heartwarming memories of my 35 years of teaching young children! It was such a privilege to see the world through their eyes each day. I learned something new every day! πŸ™‚ A special motto in our classroom was “No hands are too small to help the world!” The children proved it time and time again (ie. writing thank you letters to veterans, adopting/sponsoring a vanishing animal at the zoo, collecting pennies for charity, stepping up to stop bullying, raising and releasing butterflies,…). Our children are our brightest hope for the future!
      Thank you, as always, for being a special part of this gathering of kindred spirits, Alys! Warmest hugs! β™‘

      Alys, you and Mike should be extremely proud of your son! I’m so impressed. What an important leadership role he has taken on! He is learning and practicing such important, real life skills and I know he will continue to make a difference in the future. I am so hopeful for the change that our *future voters* are working toward!

  11. I applaud you joining your local students. I have written, I have voted, I have continued to express my dissatisfaction with the adults in DC who continue to do nothing. But, nothing changes. So, I applaud the students and hope with all my heart that just maybe the voices of our future can bring about change because we need their help. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for all of your actions, Judy! The voices of our future are speaking loud and clear. They are telling our lawmakers and leaders β€œEnough is enough!” I feel hopeful that change will come. I will continue to support their efforts to end gun violence in our schools and neighborhoods. Thank you for stopping to join in the conversation today, Judy! Wishing you a happy weekend!πŸ’—

    • Heartfelt thanks, Ericka! Becoming a teacher was my dream-come-true. From the tender age of eight, I knew that teaching would be my way of making a difference in our world. My lifetime of caring about public education, both the students and their teachers, continues as strong as ever. So, taking steps to support them is just a part of who I am. Once a teacher, always a teacher! 😊 The students are right, β€œEnough is enough!”

      Thank you for being here, Ericka, for taking the time to catch up on my recent posts, and for your very kind words. Hope you are enjoying nice, Springtime days! πŸ’—

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