Public Schools Need to Change
I have always been different. I have always been really into my studies, weighed a little bit more than others, been a little bit awkward. I've had anxiety since before I can remember. I was an easy target. Being the youngest sibling of 3 boys gave me thick skin, I learned to roll with the punches and laugh the jokes off, even when they were hurtful. I always remembered little comments about my weight or my freckles. In 7th grade, there was an incident on the bus where a friend of mine and I were told we were too big to share a seat. We were pushed against the window by one kid while others laughed. Instead of just taking it, we went to the school. The assistant principal called me down to his office and I described what happened and he helped me name the kids that were involved. I thought, "wow! this is actually really helpful." Later that week, I was told that my name was going around the school because I had called out those kids. I didn't care much and I just let it go. Flash forward to my last year of middle school, I was a super committed student and I worked my butt off to come back to school and maintain my grades after missing almost the entire first half of the school year. I applied to NJHS, and I honestly expected to get it. In the most humble way possible, I was so proud of myself and really had no doubt that I would get in. I didn't. I was heartbroken. If you didn't get in, you had a meeting with the advisors and talked about why. In my meeting, they expressed that they had some concerns about my character because of an incident that I was seen and reported as bullying somebody on the bus the year prior. The kids mom worked at the school and I guess the assistant principal had turned it around on me. It was my first look at the fact that I should keep everything to myself. Although I don't feel that way any longer I still can imagine this happening to more and more kids the same age to only put the idea in their head that they shouldn't talk about what's wrong. My high school was a little more accommodating but my recommendation would be to use some of the sports budget or some of the decoration budget and use it to hire more counselors. Use it to teach teachers about the benefits of approaching students who look like they need it or even the ones who don't. The fact is that students spend 7 hours a day, 5 days a week (more if you count extracurricular activities) at school. That is more than they spend at home. Students need support from the adults that they see the most. And maybe if those adults were equip with the tools necessary, the students would approach them more. That would create a healthier learning environment for everybody involved. And maybe make students feel more comfortable and less forced going to school.