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HUNT COLUMN: The magic rewind

By Cathy Hunt
Troup County School Board Chairwoman

There’s a wonderful short video entitled “Every Opportunity” produced by the Center for Language and Literacy at Atlanta Speech School. I’ve seen it a couple of times at workshops. It popped into my mind this past week as our Troup County kids went back to school.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead! So if you want to see it for yourself, take a break from reading, go immediately to YouTube, and type the info above into the search bar. This video will pop right up, and it’s definitely worth four minutes of your time.

But here is the Cliff’s Notes version if you prefer: A boy of about six, looking fresh and ready for a new day of school, climbs onto his school bus in the morning and cheerfully greets the bus driver, whose response is a grunt and a thumb signaling the boy to proceed to his seat.

At the door of the school, the boy is still in good spirits and says good morning to the principal, who’s busy listening to her radio and hurrying the kids into the building. He is again ignored.

In class, his teacher’s basic lesson plan is sit down, be quiet, do your work, and don’t annoy me. When the class is a little noisy in the hallway, they are sentenced to silent lunch.

In the cafeteria line, the boy tells the cashier sheepishly that he’s forgotten his ID number. She rolls her eyes, sighs, brusquely asks for his name, and shoos him away.

In other words, all the school’s adults fall far short of showing they care one whit about the kids in their charge. At this point, the boy (who is the narrator) says, “If this is education, we’re in trouble.”

Then, a magic rewind. This time, the bus driver greets the boy by name and gives him a fist bump. The principal delivers hugs and cheery hellos at the school door and makes the students feel welcome and important. The teacher actually smiles, hugs her kids, and encourages teamwork and discussion in her class. The cafeteria worker knows the boy’s name, beams at him, and says she’ll look up his number, no problem. What a difference caring, supportive adults make in a child’s day and in his life. School is not drudgery, but a place where good-hearted adults help children to find their voices, their character, and their confidence.

Let’s not forget that the school day is book-ended by the adults at home. A hug and a positive attitude about all the opportunities that lie ahead in a school day is the right way to send a child out the door. After school, showing interest in the experiences of the day and any tasks that need to be performed that evening can send a child to bed looking forward to doing it all again the next day.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”