Hail, the Conquering Hero!

Boris2I am thankful for Joe Boris, a history/sociology teacher at State College Area High School. He is retiring this year, after 40 years at State High. The number of students he’s touched is in the tens of thousands and there isn’t one who knows Joe at all that doesn’t love him. Or at least will admit to it.

He was one of the most popular teachers back in my day (I graduated in ’80) and his reputation with students and colleagues alike has only grown stronger over the years. He has always put the students first…OK, maybe second after his wife.

His “trick” for connecting, motivating, challenging, and changing students’ lives? Trust. You knew you could talk to  him about anything and he’d listen. He’d give you wisdom if you wanted it…or  needed it. He’d help plan out a prank; he’d figuratively hold your hand if you pushed the envelope too far and needed to face the music.

He is a man of faith. Faith in God. Faith in his colleagues. Faith in himself. Faith in his students–and be sure to know that if you went to State High, you were his student, whether or not you actually took any of his classes.

I can easily say that my life is richer for having known him.

We’ll miss ya, Joe! Enjoy the garden!

A Heroine of the Highest Caliber

sunday’s Spiritual Spin

I am thankful for Victoria Soto, a modern American heroes:


This is Victoria. She died a hero today. She hid her first graders in the cabinets and closets after hearing the gunfire. When the shooter came to her classroom, she told him that her students were in the gym. He then gunned her down and moved on. She saved the lives of all of her students. Please pass this on if you see it. She deserves to be remembered for her bravery.

From: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151178360515143&set=a.468173130142.253861.502310142&type=1&ref=nf

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (Jn 15:13 ESV)


Confirmation of Compassion and Witness for Wisdom

I am thankful for the Compassion and Wisdom displayed by numerous professional in yesterday’s School shooting.

For the teacher who told the children that the reason for all the hullabaloo at the school was because “a wild animal found its way in the school (no lie there, imVho), and the police officer(s) who told the children to hold the shoulders in front of them and walk out with their eyes closed to avoid seeing the carnage.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent some time working with abuse victims. Trauma can be compounded or averted by the (un)timely word spoken to a vulnerable person by someone they trust. As it is written, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Pr 18:21). Many of these children might be “traumatized” not so much by the actions they personally witnessed (as those relative few in the classrooms with the shooter) but by the actions and words of those adults around them. The kids themselves might or might not have seen anything. They might or might not have the capacity to understand what happened. They definitely have the ability to take their cues from those around them. Should those trusted adults pretend nothing happened? Hardly. Even if the survivors are prohibited from attending funerals and memorials, at the very least they will wonder what happened to their classmates. Should said adults seek counsel from the professionals who have worked with similar situations? Absolutely. Should they love on those kids? (Does that even need a rhetorical response?)

Much honor and respect, KUDOS, to that teacher and officer for not only doing something positive in a crisis, but doing a great thing under duress. Maybe the officer had some training. Maybe not. Pretty sure this was never covered in the teacher’s in-service training.

Let’s just say I’m not thinking such good thoughts about the media…vultures…who felt it necessary to interrogate any of the kids and the parents. невоспитанный


Internet III: The Joys and Perils of Connection

I am thankful for the Internet: it allowed a former student of mine to find me and reconnect.

Granted, the outcome was very positive. Said student was even rather complimentary! Some might take that as a given, this student took the time and energy to look me up, right? I definitely appreciate those positive vibes!

Fact of the matter is, I am far from perfect. <collective gasp> I apologize; I should have warned everyone to sit before making such an announcement. But there you have it. I goof up all too frequently. Say days ending in “y”. (Which is not tomorrow, btw).

Anyway, while I have always tried my best, OK, usually tried my best, (more often than not?) to be conscious of the potential impact my interactions have on my students, even adopting the physicians’ “First, do no harm” perspective, I am never certain of how that works out.

Oh, sure, all of the students (to date) who have contacted me have been very complimentary. I could paste them up and have quite the “I love Me” wall. But there is always that niggling fear that instead of “looking me up”, there are some students out there that want to “hunt me down” for some off hand remark that just happened to hit them in a vulnerability. How’s that for a teachable moment or window of opportunity?

Am I really that paranoid? Nah. Although part of me prays: “Dear God! I hope so!” I am very aware of the impact I potentially have on “young and impressionable minds”. and that the difference between “raising up a child in the ways he should go” and “brainwashing” is largely a matter of perspective.

To sum up, since I have already been yammering too long: I take this very positive re-connection as an ongoing sign that I am God’s favorite. 😉   After all, the contacts I’ve had to date have been positive. So the “evidence” is in my favor to interpret as I will. Of course, that simply means that anyone who has felt less than warm and fuzzy when thinking about me just doesn’t feel vindictive enough to track me down.