I can remember the day as if it were yesterday.
I went to bed that night worried, but yet ready to help this girl in the morning. As I was getting ready for school the next day, I received the call that I will never forget. It was the school superintendent. He informed me that this particular student had taken her own life early that same morning. I started to cry, and I could not stop. I cried myself to school. I called my brother as I knew he could talk me through this. I got to school, shut my office door, and continued to cry. Questions began to fill my head. My heart was aching for her family and friends, and my mind was in a million different places. What could I have done to ensure this did not happen? Should I have let her in my house? Did I miss an opportunity to help a child?
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about my actions. That occurrence has completely changed who I am as a person and as a school administrator. It is precisely the reason I blog. I can’t help but wonder how many students and opportunities we miss. How many students are fighting internal battles but look completely fine on the outside? How many students would like to reach out, but have no one to grab on to?
We need to realize that mental illnesses are diseases like any others. Just because they cannot always be seen does not mean that they don’t exist. Sometimes we get carried away with our daily routines and become fixated on taking care of ourselves. We forget about the people around us. I’m telling you today, and I’ve said it in previous blogs – take some time to help others. Sometimes it takes us helping others to ultimately help ourselves. Every one of us has a story. We are all fighting something inside us. What if you could be the one to alleviate that burden for someone else? What if you took the time to have a simple conversation with someone? Take the time to hear somebody else’s story, and you never know, it may help you write yours. You might also save a life.
I think back to the eleven years I’ve been in education, and I’m reminded of many instances in which a student was trying to reach out to me. I also know that many of these times I did not give the situation as much attention as I should have. I have no excuses for that. I can’t take those moments back. I now know that every child is worth my time. I also know that as educators, we make differences every day in the lives of our students, and we often don’t know we’re doing it. Every moment of every day we need to treat kids as if they are our own. We need to let students know that we care about them. We care about their schooling, we care about their dreams, and we will help create possibilities for them.