Saturday, December 31, 2011

'Tis the Season

I know what you're thinking: "My isn't this post a little late? Christmas has come and gone... silly girl." But you are thinking of a different sort of season than I am. You are thinking of the holiday season and I'm thinking of... duh, duh, duh (cue the suspenseful music) RECRUITING season.
Yes, now that the new year is upon us, the recruiting season is in full swing for international school teachers. It's this time of year that we spiffy up our C.V.s and get all our references sorted (truth be told I did most of that a couple of months ago as the recruiting season seems to be earlier each year) and, if our contracts are up for renewal we begin to ask what's next? And sometimes that is easier answered than others. Sometimes the teacher in question is happy with their school and vice versa so the answer is nothing... I'm staying right here. Or sometimes there is discord and the teacher and/or school knows it's time to move on, to sever the relationship as it were. And then there are times where the choice is difficult. Where there is no clear cut answer and there is a lot of thinking to do (typically before the winter break comes and that can be fairly stressful).
However, once the choice is made to go recruiting, the season starts in full swing. I have chosen to go recruiting this year. I don't HATE my school or the place I live, I just feel like a better fit might be out there for me and I'd like to see if it is, so I'm going to check that out. Now, I've chosen to use the help of a recruiting agency. I've signed on to a group called Search Associates and for a fee from me and a lot of my professional documents, they will alert me to jobs etc that match my desires and also help facilitate an opportunity for me to interview with several schools in a matter of days: a job fair.
So the recruiting season has begun and it's stressful and fun and exciting all at the same time. I personally love networking and meeting new people, so the whole job fair process is a thrill for my extroverted self. I also love looking over the specs of a number of schools and day-dreaming about what it might be like to work and live there. Sure, it seems early as the school year doesn't end until June but it sure is nice to have job security in knowing where your next job will be several months in advance.
So blow the horns, let loose the hounds (as it were) and let the season begin! To all my teacher friends in the hunt, good luck and stay confident! To all my administrator friends in the hunt, good luck and may you find the best fits possible for your schools!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011


Today's adventure was to hop the Circumvesuviana train and head out to Pompeii. I didn't know what would be out there or what the crowds might be like since it was Christmas Eve and all. So I packed some water, an apple and some delicious Neopolitan cookies that my sweet little Italian Grandpa gave me (if you are a facebook friend you know all about him already, but if you aren't here's the back story: The other night I popped into a store to buy some water andthe little man behind the counter kept calling me bella and gave me a cookie to try. It was amazing, so I bought one to go. A couple of nights later, I popped in for more water and another one of these cookies when he decided that I really should try them all. So I bought one of each and he gave me one to eat right away... um... these people make GOOD cookies!!).

Off I went, hopped the train and was away! When I got to the station (Scavi Pompeii), I hopped off and out into the street where there were signs pointing me to the excavation site. Pompeii is still an active archeological site and some of the streets are closed from time to time as things are dug up or restored so that tourists can safely walk through. Below are a few of the pictures that I took on my wanderings in the nearly empty site (winter is a great time to be in the region as there are few tourists and the sun is out... felt more like spring or fall than winter).

Pompeii is beautiful... the whole area is and I highly recommend seeing it. It was a treat to do that on a warm and sunny day and to have the whole site nearly to myself until the last 10 minutes when a couple of large Japanese tour groups arrived.

Friday, December 23, 2011


It's almost like you could hear the cry echo in the anfiteatro in Santa Maria Capua Vetere. Almost... or maybe it was the delirium of excitement at having finally FOUND the place.

The adventure begins in trying to figure out how one gets a Metro Nord'Ouest ticket at the Stazione Centrale in Napoli. I must have wandered around for about 30 minutes before locating the appropriate office (which was literally right in front of my face at least 3 times) with the help of a lady who worked in another office. What I was looking for was the official artecard office because this little gem of a card gets you into a certain number of historical sites or museums included in the price and gets you free public transport (trains, ferries, subway, buses etc) and some great (as in 50%) discounts on the other historical venues. So once I sorted out which card I would need and chatted with the saleslady about how to make best use (she told me all the museums are open and FREE on Christmas Day and that Pompeii was included in my card... guess who's going to Pompeii tomorrow?) of the card, I went to find my train. And this is what I found:

So CUTE!! It just has 2 cars and runs around the area. Very handy, very quick, very clean and comfortable. Once I finally (45 minutes) got to Santa Maria Capua Vetere (this is where ancient Capua was), I thought I'd pop off the train and right into the city centre, full of signage etc like Sorrento was... WRONG!! Not so many tourists make it out here and there is NO signage when you first get off the train and wander into the street. So let me help you avoid the extra 45 minutes or so of wandering the random streets of S. Maria Capua V. like I did. Once you come out from the station, follow the road to the T and then GO LEFT! You will follow that road up a curve and on your right will be a brown sign for the museum (which I would avoid going to, it's literally 2 rooms of stones behind glass... we have BETTER artifacts from the same period in Turkey). Keep going, going, going (you may want to ask for directions and most Italians are sweet enough to point you in the right direction). Finding the museum will help orient you for sure. The museum should be on your left... walk past it to a roundabout, take the left and keep walking until you see the anfiteatro on your right. It's hard to miss with the big open square and men playing afternoon games of Bocce Ball. And that's it. It's not spectacular or anything but if you are a history fan and a fan of Spartacus, then you might like to see it. The anfiteatro costs 2 Euro 50 to get in, so it's really cheap and the walking is easy, just over crazy uneven pavement (the paving stones of old are still in use on most streets). While, I'm exhausted from all the walking and wandering, I'm really glad I saw it. The walk was good for me and invigorating actually, and the site is just cool...

When in Rome...

So when I found out that Rome was just 2 hours by train from Naples, I knew I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go there. So began to research the feasibility of a day trip. I know that a day is not long enough to see all that Rome has to offer, but when you find out that there is just one thing that I've been desperate for YEARS to see and it's in Rome (actually its in Vatican City, no not the Pope), you'll understand my crazed efforts to run up there and back. Not to mention that I had already booked my hotel here in Napoli and had no intentions of canceling the booking in order to re-book for a few days here and a few days there. I had PLANNED a trip to Napoli and was more than content with just that... well, until I found out that Rome is SO CLOSE!!

Anyway, I began to research by getting in touch with my friend Google. I asked how to get from Naples to Rome and a whole bunch of sites came up but the one that was useful was the Italylogue site as it had links to the things I needed to know and got me online with the train system here in Italy. I booked my train tickets and that was easy. Then I decided to book a tour for the Vatican since I had been told that lines are astronomical, even in winter and more so because it was the Christmas season. So I went to a website that books tours etc for you. And they were great! They were able to get me 2 tours for decent prices and that fit inside the time constraints that I had. I love the Internet sometimes!!

Anyway, I hopped my train at 7am (and just so you know, no cat calling that early... all the cool guys are sleeping and it was a fairly peaceful walk to the train station) and was off and running. Taking the train in Italy is really easy. I had booked online, so I didn't need a ticket, just my confirmation number (it gives me a seat and car too, so no jostling around for a seat). Anyway, once on the train, I was absorbed in watching daylight come to the GORGEOUS Italian countryside and 2 hours zipped by.

Rome was FREEZING! So much colder than Naples and I was not aware so I had my winter coat and boots, scarf and hat, but NO gloves! And I was taking an open air, hop-on/hop-off tour bus first!! ACK! My fingers nearly fell off several times but I got some fantastic shots of the city. I didn't get off at any of the stops until the Vatican. I simply didn't have time and it wasn't part of the plan. Part of the life plan is to go back though. What a gorgeous city.

At the Vatican, I found a cafe, had some lunch and wrote a couple of postcards. I wanted them posted from the actual Vatican so, I had to do it there. I was also fortunate enough to swat away an adorable waiter who thought I should spend Christmas having coffee with him and maybe dinner. Too cute! He was crestfallen when I told him that my plans were to be in Napoli.

Next came my tour of the Vatican. And, surprise of surprises, the Vatican was nearly empty that afternoon. Even our guide was shocked. She said that in the summer 25,000 (yes, THOUSAND) people go through there in a DAY. So much so that she cannot point out the mosaics on the floor or spend more than 5 minutes in the Sistine Chapel. That would have annoyed me to have paid and be pushed through. Anyway, I went, I saw and then the ONE thing I was waiting for:

I've loved this sculpture for my whole lifetime it seems. Something in Mary's face breaks my heart in a way I can't describe or even truly understand myself. Something in the gentle folds in her dress leaves me breathless. And this is why I HAD to go to Rome, I had to see it up close. Michelangelo was just 23 when he started creating this. It is the ONLY piece he signed. She was special to him and she is to me too.

After I saw her, gazed at her beauty and soaked in the atmosphere, I was done. I took the bus back to the station, seeing some more gorgeous sites and then rode the train back to Napoli. A day well spent.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It May Have Been the Leopard Print Leggings....

So tonight I was meant to meet up with my lovely breakfast partners but somehow it didn't happen... this is the traveler's life sometimes... missed connections. Not a big deal, sure I would have enjoyed a dinner laughing with them, but somehow I know we will connect sometime in the future again (they have my blog address and email address: HI LADIES!!!). So I waited in the "lobby" of our B'n'B but it made the owner nervous to have me there with no apparent reason (he's just the sweetest man and wanted to help as much as he could) and then I went downstairs to the entrance way to wait... and that's where it all began....

Yes, I was wearing my new leopard print leggings (listen... I'm on holiday and just cute enough to pull it off... check the picture if you don't believe me - sorry for the shoddy mirror shot, but what's a single traveler to do?! Oh... and I'm wearing knee high, flat black boots that you can't see... so it's not a WHOLE leg of leopard).

I was standing in the doorway, watching the comings and goings of this neighbourhood, which is interesting in and of itself (kind wish I had a beer or a wine to sit and watch all the bizarre pass by) but people were watching me too. I felt a little like a fish in a bowl. But I tried to pay it no mind as the neighbourhood can be sketchy late at night (this was only 8 pm so I wasn't worried) and I'm sure not a lot of chubby chicks stand around in leopard print leggings looking foreign. Anyway, a very handsome YOUNG gentleman passed by 2 or 3 times before pretending to need into the building (the entrance wasn't locked at the time, so the ruse was up as soon as he got in as he had nowhere to go!! hahaha). He began to chatter to me in Italian, to which I responded that I spoke none (in English of course... saying it in Italian would have made me a liar). He then asked where I was from and when I said Canada, he switched into fluent French (guess I can't use that as my code language here, I should have said Turkey!). I understood very little of what he was saying, but just enough to understand that he thought I was beautiful and was trying to get something which is not his to have!! Eventually he left and I decided that meeting my new friends wasn't going to happen. I stepped out into the street to find a little pizzeria (my lunch was my big spend meal today) for dinner and was accosted by "smack, smack, psst, psst" by nearly every man I passed!! YIKES! I mean, every lady wants to feel attractive, but I was beginning to wonder if the leggings led these shady men to think I was a lady of the night or something!!!! I kept walking and avoided any eye contact and did not respond and that worked just find... no man pursued me, spoke to me or touched me (so perhaps they didn't think I was a lady of the night... let's cross our fingers and toes and hope that's the truth of the matter) or was aggressive in any manner.

Later, I found my little ristorante/pizzeria and they were showing the local soccer match between Napoli and Genoa. The waiters were funny and engaging (they kept trying to get me to have another drink and to stay a little longer... the place was full of good energy, I liked it) and the food was delicious (I so need to cleanse when I leave here... at least no gluten for a month or something... I'm getting my fair share and yours too). So I watched the first half and then decided that 10 pm was plenty late for me to try to walk back to my hotel. It was much quieter on the way back and Napoli was winning 4-1 when I left.

So maybe it's that I'm cute (and I AM!!) or maybe it was the leopard print leggings, but today I finally got all the male attention everyone warned me about!!

Sleepy Sorrento

Today's adventure included taking the train to another location and navigating new streets on my own. And it was surprisingly easy, even with no Italian in my bag of tricks.

This morning, after a great breakfast (made great by the fellow travelers at my B'n'B that share knowledge, stories and laughs), I made my way to the Circumvesuviana train station which is about 3 minutes walking from my hotel. I had heard and read in the guide books that this area is rife with pick-pockets and just plain dangerous... however, there was no danger when I went (I guess that's the benefit of traveling in the off-season). Sure, there were vagrants begging and some less than savoury people standing outside, but no one hassled me or even approached me. I strolled in, right up to the ticket counter and bought my return ticket for 8 Euros total. The train was easy to find, was clean and generally comfortable. I will say that it pays to get there right when the doors open though as it fills up very quickly and generally is standing room only all the way to Pompeii (which is a fair ways away).

The train right was pleasant and it was good to see the little towns and Mt. Vesuvius whizzing by. I loved that the further south it went, the more citrus trees I saw. I was shocked that the lemons, oranges and mandarins were still ripening on the trees.

Upon arrival in Sorrento, it's pretty easy to find the city centre. You exit the train, walk straight and there you are! The streets are incredibly clean (which is a nice change after the piles of garbage in Napoli - I never said Napoli was clean in the last post... the good things far outweighed the bad in my first impressions) and beautifully decorated for the holidays.

I arrived at about 11 am and in Sorrento (as in much of southern Italy from what I am learning) everything pretty much shuts down from noon to 4pm or so. I thought that the markets would be bustling with last minute shopper etc, but no... Sorrento was sleepy. This beautiful seaside town was already shutting doors and locking up when I arrived. Thankfully some of the shops were open in hopes of getting the few tourists to loosen our purse strings (which I dutifully did at the limoncello store, Limonoro). So after wandering and getting a couple of gorgeous shots...

I went for lunch. I'm not always a fan of things like mussels and clams (almost never really) but since I was in a town that is FAMOUS for their seafood, I thought I should at least try. I am SO glad that I did... it was delicious!!!

After that, there was just very little left to do and the sun was already sliding out of the sky, so I headed for the train station and got into the next train headed for Napoli. It was a faster route going back, which was nice and it was basically empty. I popped off at the Piazza Garibaldi stazione this time and was greeted by a really lovely Christmas tree (covered with hand written Christmas letters and wishes... very sweet). As I was walking back, I saw a coffee shop mentioned in my guide book (I like the EyeWitness guide books) as the BEST place to get coffee in Napoli. So naturally, I had to test it out... and it might be the best cappuccino and sfogliatella that I have ever tasted (it was my first sfogliatella to tell the truth). So if you are ever at the Stazione Centrale, hit up Mexico Cafe/Bar... YUM!!! And it was 2.60 Euros... ridiculous!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First Impressions...

... are important. They leave lasting impressions. So my first impressions of Italy will leave me with lasting impressions of being impressed, amused and a little in love.

Last night when I boarded my plane to Naples from Munich my first impression of Italian people is that they travel like Koreans. They have MULTIPLE shopping bags and carry-ons and jackets and and and.... and they shove it all up into the compartments above or under the seats or under YOUR seat if they need to, but the difference is they are apologetic if they need your space or if they've made you uncomfortable. They smile, they say excuse me and they seem generally happy. So my first impression of the Italian people is that they are sweetly chaotic and I like it.

Once I arrived I got my bag (nearly first off the plane), wandered out onto the street and began to wonder about hailing a taxi. No problem! There is a taxi line and drivers are helping each other to get fares instead of competing to take them from each other. It was fast, efficient and friendly to hop into a taxi and the rates are FIXED. Twenty Euros from airport to hotel door and the driver wanted to be sure I was safe so he walked me to the door, rang the doorbell, explained a new guest had arrived and even offered to pay for my elevator (it costs 10 cents to to use the elevator in the building I am in)!!! Can you imagine?! So my first impression of Italian taxi drivers is that they are gentlemen!

My hotel is a bit more of a bed and breakfast, the rooms are small and simple and CLEAN. It suits my needs perfectly! And the staff speak VERY little English but want to chatter away to you in Italian as the two ladies did this morning at breakfast, asking me in rapid fire about the kind of coffee I wanted. I was overwhelmed but also overjoyed at their friendly sweetness... thank goodness for the two American ladies who were there and had been for a couple of days. They were able to help me get a coffee. :) So my first impressions of Italian ladies is that they are sweet, funny and kind. My first impressions of other travelers in Italy is that they too are sweet, funny and kind.

Today I decided to wander the streets of Napoli (Naples), just looking around and getting a feel for the place. I wanted (hoped I could find, more like it) to see the street where they sell all the presepi (nativity scenes). And, I did! In fact, I stumbled upon it as I just wandered the streets, following the loose directions of one of the hotel workers (he's a lovely and flirty Italian man who greeted me by name this morning... I really do recommend the Sweet Sleep Bed and Breakfast if you come to Naples). I loved wandering the noisy and chaotic streets of Napoli. Cars and scooters and people all swimming together in the channels that are the streets here. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how it flows, but flow it does. And I felt safe... Sure, I took proper precautions with my valuables but I never felt that having a bag on my shoulders made me a target or that I was going to be hit by the scooters careening down the streets. My first impressions of Napoli are much like my first impressions of her people, sweetly chaotic, funny and kind.

Here are some photos that encompass my first impressions of this place:

I love little markets and specialty shops and this place is full of them. It's the way of life here!

Amid all the chaos are these amazing buildings, sculptures and pieces of art... beauty is everywhere!

One of the LARGER streets in the area of my hotel...

Some of the pieces used to make the presepi (nativity scenes)... they aren't all serious and holy, they encompass the comic and the every day... just like Italians in general.

Me... happy... it's a bum shot of myself but I have no one to blame but the photographer!! hehehe But I'm happy.... happy to be here, happy to stay where I am staying and happy to experience new things!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hives, Hospitals and Hankerings

Yup, the three H's of my last week. Let me chronicle for you exactly what happened.

Saturday in the wee hours of the morning (yes, I was returning home from a great night out with friends), I felt my back go into full spasm. I couldn't stand up straight, couldn't walk and couldn't relax. So Saturday I spent most of the day in a horizontal position (nope, not one of the H's yet).

Sunday I began to feel better and dragged myself out of bed and down to the school's brunch/bizarre in support of our CAS Project (I've posted about this recently). I had a great lunch but was feeling a little hot and like another cold was heading my way. I had work to do so after the brunch, I wandered down to Starbucks for a coffee and some work time. I had forgotten a pen and so didn't get all that I needed completed. But never mind, I came home and got right to work, completing my report cards, writing important emails and developing some much needed documents for my school. Great day! Nope, still no H's... yet!

Around 3:30 on Monday morning I woke up with an itch (yes, yes, here come the H's) on my leg. It was like an intense mosquito bite, so I woke up scratching it but thought nothing of it until later when I woke up for real at around 6:30. My leg was itchy all over, both were... they were covered in HIVES. I wasn't too worried though as they weren't anywhere else on my body and I thought I had simply put some unusual cream on my legs or something. The hives then moved to my torso, feet, arms, head and neck. I was scratching like crazy and took some Benadryl to calm it down but it didn't help. So off I went to basketball practice and then to home. I thought I would flush whatever it was out of my system with lots of water etc.

Around 2:30 am on Tuesday I was loading myself in a taxi because now the hives were causing major swelling in my left foot and left forearm. I was in full freak out mode at this point. Off to the HOSPITAL I went... yah! Now, if you know me, you know that I have no love for hospitals in general, never mind where a language barrier could be involved... but I had to go... the first H required the second H because I was HANKERING for some sleep and relief. Once I got there I found a nearly empty emergency room with 3 nurse itching (no pun intended) to help me. One slid an IV in my hand (best one I've ever had... didn't even feel it) and promptly hooked me up to a bag of "anti-allergic" as my doctor said. I was out and back home within an hour... relieved and exhausted.
Later that same day I went back to the hospital to get checked by a doctor to get to the bottom of this allergic reaction mystery (no, no change in foods, lotions or detergents that I had been using previously). I slept off and on for most of the day.

On Wednesday I woke up to find a couple of minor hives on my legs but there was no itch except my feet, hands and ears. However, the hives came back with a vengeance... attacking my legs, arms and torso this time. They were angry and red.

On Thursday, I taught for the first 2 hours of school and them my teaching partner (who is pretty much a goddess) let me go back to the hospital to get checked again. Turns out the first set of tests said I was only mildly allergic to dogs (but since I don't have one in my home, that wasn't the cause this time) and nothing else. My doctor smiled sweetly at my concern, did a little check of the vitals and declared me fine. He then gave me a new drug regimen to help with the hives and sent me home for the rest of the day. Again, I spent most of it sleeping.

Today is Friday and I have been 95% hive free all day and the last of the left me this afternoon. It's been a week of hives, hospitals and hankering to be hive-free! Thank goodness it is over!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is it an allergic reaction or EVIL EYE?

This year has been very busy and stressful for me. I'm part of the leadership team in the elementary which also means I'm part of the school-wide curriculum leadership team, I lead a whole elem. staff inservice at the beginning of the year, I coached boys high school volleyball, I'm assisting with girl's basketball, I'm searching for new jobs and I'm the social coordinator for my entire staff. Now, those of you who truly know me know that I THRIVE on being busy and close to the edge of maxed out. But it's been hard this year because I'm also struggling with one illness after another since volleyball ended. So in November, I returned from the volleyball trip to London with a little bit of a cold that after 2 weeks turned into a raging infection and cold. I finally dragged myself to the doctor who immediately put me on anti-biotics to clear up the infection and other meds to deal with the cold symptoms. Great... I began to feel better but then struggled with my back spasming (this I can handle pretty well) and some uncomfortable side-effects to the anti-biotics. Back to the pharmacy I went, got the meds I needed and started feeling better from that when I felt a cough and chest cold coming back. I prescribed myself with rest, relaxation and some Vicks Vapo-rub only to wake up with hives covering my body. Now I think it must be an allergic reaction, but my Turkish teaching partner says it's the Evil Eye.
LinkI'm not entirely convinced but perhaps someone out there is jealous or wishing me ill-will and it's effecting my health. I sure hope not and I also hope that these hives fade into the background as does the cold so I can enjoy my winter break in Italy in a week's time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

One of My Favourite Things About BLIS

One of my favourite things about my current school (among a few others that are pretty awesome - including the people I work with and my ADORABLE students) is the CAS Project. Today I went to a brunch that our school and parents put on to raise money for the CAS Project. And, no, I can't remember what CAS stands for (something to do with community service though) but I do know what they do and that's what I love. This group (primarily high school students) works to make the world better.

One of their projects that I have participated in is the Sunday visits to the Ankara Center for Rehabilitation. Most of the children at the center aren't from Ankara, but from outlying villages where there is little help for the mental and/or physical difficulties that these children are challenged with. So they come to this center and stay for a prescribed period of time (the mothers come with them to care for them around the clock) to get help during the week. On the weekends they are permitted to stay there, but there is nothing for them to do. So the kids in CAS go out there and spend time with them, playing games, doing simple art projects and just bringing a little brightness to their weeks. I've been, I see the impact it makes and it's huge. I love it. I get way more from it than I give and I know that the kids feel the same.

Another one of the projects is to go to Romania or another country hosting the Habitat for Humanity project. They go there, bring their cheerful selves, build relationships and a house for a family in need. I haven't gone with them but I've seen their pictures and heard their stories and I know that as much help and sunshine as they bring with them, they take so much more away.

Yet another one of their projects (their biggest one) is to help a school in a village in Turkey. They raise the money to have proper bathrooms installed, then they go there and give the school a mild make-over (paint etc), establish a library for the children (sometimes there are none), and to spend a week loving on the kids at that school by sharing activities, smiles and hugs. Again, I haven't gone but I've seen the pictures and heard the stories. It's incredible.

And what I love most about it is that the parents, teachers, staff, students and whole school embraces the CAS project. We use it in my classroom to give the kids a goal of community service to shoot for, and I am sure it's like that in other classrooms too. How wonderful to try to instill these children at every level with the concept of social responsibility and to show them how much better they make the lives of others and themselves through it.

Today was a great reminder of all of that.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bullying, what are we doing?

I don't know if you've seen this video from this boy named Jonah or not. I know it went viral and is still floating around cyberspace, causin a stir. I just saw it today for the first time and was so saddened by what this kid has had to endure. I was abused and bullied as a child and then just bullied as a teen. I never cut myself like Jonah did, I never felt as alone as he does in this video, but I've known that kind of pain and alienation.

Now I'm a teacher and as I watched that video I got to thinking about all my students past and present. How many of them were like Jonah? Did I do enough to make them feel protected and safe, loved and somewhat happy? I've never thought of teaching as just a job or a 9-5 occupation where my only responsibility was to impart practical skills and knowledge to my students. I've always viewed my students as my kids. I love them like they all live with me (thank God they don't, though... that'd be far too many kids for a 2 bedroom apartment!!) and like I am responsible for their happiness. But I know that I didn't connect with EVERY student (I don't think it's possible simply because of personalities being different) and I worry. I worry that they felt sad, that they felt afraid, that they felt alienated, that they felt like there was no one for them to turn to.

This video also makes me ask the question of what were his teacher's doing? What are we ALL doing to lessen bullying in our schools and in our student's lives? Are we working hard to make sure that these kids understand social responsibility? Are we ensuring that they understand the meaning of words like tolerance, acceptance, caring, responsibility and respect? Or are we just taking a hard line, no tolerance kind of attitude (I agree that we can't tolerate bullying, but I don't know if expelling every bully is the solution to the problem... feels like a bizarre kind of Band-Aid) that teaches kids the power of complaint rather than the desire to create solutions. I don't have all the answers, but I sure have a lot of questions about how to handle these kinds of situations. I know that one can't just DEMAND tolerance, kindness, respect, trust, integrity and so on from children. They need to be taught these things by example (and I am, by no means, a perfect example of any of these), with words, with actions, and with care.

To my students of the past and present, I hope you have always felt cared for and safe in the classrooms where I have taught and I hope none of you suffered a Jonah-like experience when I was your teacher. I hope and pray that I will be more vigilant about teaching my students the kind of characteristics it takes to be a truly good and productive citizen of the world and that I will be more aware and mindful of the experiences my students have at school.

And finally, to my fellow professional educators, let's try to find solutions to this bullying situation together. Let's be examples of tolerance and acceptance, kindness and caring to our students on a daily basis. It won't be easy (especially on cold winter Mondays... speaking from my own experience) but it will be worth it if one less child feels the need to cut or consider suicide. It will be worth it if one more child learns to accept that kid who just isn't like all the others. It. Will. Be. Worth. It.