I use #hashtag technology sparingly, mostly because I find reading them really annoying as an English teacher. However, I’ve fully embraced three so far in my life as a marketing blogger; they include #endpianoviolence, #WeAreAllSportsFans, and now this one #YesToGirls, a recent push by the Malala Fund (www.malala.org) to remind presidents and prime ministers everywhere of the promise one year ago that GIRLS EVERYWHERE would have the right to an education.
Flashback to 15 years ago when September 11, 2001 changed everything. We remember exactly where we were standing or sitting when that first airplane crossed the television screen, in my case, or, in person, for those living in NYC or PA or Washington, DC at the time. A much younger teacher then having moved from the seacoast to the mountains, I sat stunned in my empty classroom with the news on until my next group of students, sixth graders, now full fledged adults, moved into my classroom full of concern, anxiety and questions.
I was worried primarily about my high school and college friend contingency living and working in the Big Apple, many of them right near or within the financial district of the World Trade Centers. We lived in a world of disbelief in those days; how could this have really happened? How would the world recover? How would the thousands of families who lost loved ones be able to survive the profound grief and fear and turmoil which rocked our world in the days that followed Sept. 11?
Flash forward to today, Sept. 10, 2016. Where do we find ourselves in a world still riddled with terrorism abroad and even here within our own country? I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I do know initiatives like the Malala Fund are important and necessary if we are going to leave the world a better place. Education for all children is the key to reducing terrorism. As a teacher, I’ve always believed in the power of reading and writing and speaking to make the world better; “use your words” we tell our children, both at home and in the classroom. “What do you want to say?” Sometimes they don’t know, but we need to give ALL of our children the tools to use for when they are ready.
Our local community has been struggling with a tremendous amount of sadness in the last three years, of parents dying from cancer or other illness or drug overdoses, and most recently in the last two weeks, a young man in a car accident and a little girl in a horseback riding accident. And I see the impact and hear the questions about death from our students ranging my own little kindergartner straight through seniors in high school. We live in a safe, supportive community, which places tremendous value on our kids’ education; our community FUNDS what we need to deliver high quality education so that our kids can pursue their dreams beyond childhood; so that they can compete with others in the job market they find themselves in down the road. I am grateful to live and teach here.
But there is so much more work to be done, so that children everywhere have these same opportunities. If you haven’t read I am Malala, please do as it helps to understand the ideology which resists education for girls everywhere. And if you haven’t watched any of the Paralympics yet, you ought to because watching athletes compete in this venue builds hope that our children can outlive the violence and terrorism and extremism which brought about Sept. 11, 2001. #YesToGirls
PS. Thank you to everyone who has liked my author page or invited friends to like it; I’ve finally hit the magical number of 500. Looks like 1000 is next! Also, I will be doing readings for True North at the Holderness School coming up on Sept. 29 and Oak Bluffs Public Library on Oct. 15.