Kim’s Corner: Back to School with an Open Heart

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SPI Board of Directors-040

This is the most recent web post from a series written by Spencer Pride Inc. Director Kim Fidler.  Kim joined the Board of Directors in 2013 and received our coveted “Volunteer of the Year” award at the 2014 Spencer Pride Festival.

As July ends and August begins, we prepare for the end of summer. We also prepare for the beginning of school. As a teacher of High School Spanish for 16 years, I always looked forward to returning to school each year to see my colleagues and students, and to be a part of the wonderful education that take place in Indiana’s public schools.

Although I have not been a classroom teacher for nearly 8 years, I still miss that excitement of teaching and learning. I miss the relationships that I developed with my students. Surprisingly, it is my most challenging students that I often think of when I fondly remember my experiences as a teacher. Of course, I had my favorite students who were absolutely wonderful in so many ways. However, I absolutely loved working with my more challenging students. I am not insinuating, by calling them challenging, that they were bad in any way. When I say that they were challenging, I am referring to the necessity for me to move out of my comfort zone to deal with the large number of differences in my students.

Some of these differences included being higher or lower level thinking students. Some of those differences included coming from a difficult or different family situation or socio-economic status. Of course, some of those differences also had to do with the emotions and hormones of teenagers. As young people struggle with their identity, their relationships, sex, love, and other emotions, sometimes schoolbooks and homework were the last things on their minds.

Nothing causes me more pain than to see young people struggle and/or be unhappy. As a teacher at a small high school, I saw numerous students who would withdraw from others, not participate in class, and have problems with grades and completing assignments. Many times this had nothing to do with levels of intelligence.

As we all know, teenagers are full of emotions. When they struggle over their identity and their relationships, it can send them into a tail-spin. Those kids who needed some extra support and encouragement quickly became some of my favorites. Of course, it is easy to love those students who behave, participate in class, and get good grades. When students do not do those things, there is usually a personal reason behind whey they are not succeeding.

I found that all they really needed was someone who would listen, maintain confidentiality, and give them encouragement. This is a tall order.Teachers are a vital part of this.However, they cannot do it alone. They need the support of the parents, administrators, and the community.

Young people who are LGBTQI, can become the targets of bullies. They may love someone who does not return their love. They need our support. In addition, PFLAG allies also may suffer mistreatment. There can be a stigma for those who support their gay friends.

It is important, that adults in the schools and in the community work together to become educated about the issues that our LGBTQI students may have. One of the best way to do this is to participate in a Spencer Pride meeting.  It is important that we all step up to make our schools and our towns more accepting of others. One of the best ways to do this is to attend the Spencer Pride Festival the first Saturday in June each year. I also encourage everyone to attend the “A Night at The Tivoli” LGBT History Month event on October 8th from 6:00 to 9:00. These are just a few ways to learn about others and to learn how to help those in our communities who are part of the LGBTQIA community. I encourage everyone to remember that many times, these people do not need advice. They simply need someone to care about them and to listen.

Please do what it takes to be a person who supports our young people regardless of their differences. It can save a life. Have a wonderful August! Watch for children and school buses. School begins soon!