I am a middle school art teacher and I feel I am a true advocate for my students. As a child, I was skinny and awkward with big glasses and a goofy smile. I was bullied by kids who were bigger and "more attractive" than me. I was called names and made fun of everyday. I was beat down by not only my peers but by teachers too. I feared going to school and faked being sick. I heard over and over the old sticks and stones philosophy but for some reason it all still hurt deeply. As a result, I suffered from depression and it was only art that helped me make it through school. After high school I went to college for art but struggled with finding my calling. I refused to be an art educator at first because I didn't want to be in a place that I hated as a kid. But after working with kids I realized that they seemed to want to talk to me...about everything that was going on in their lives. I chose to teach middle school because I feel that this is the most confusing time in a kid’s life. My students struggle to find their place in the world so I feel that it is my job as a teacher to give them a safe place to figure out who they are and to find their voice. I tell my students that bullying will NEVER be okay no matter if it is physical or verbal and that my door is always open. I have been blessed to be in a school where we have a zero tolerance policy on bullying and our students have signed a pledge to stand up for each other. We have a group at our school called SUBAH which stands for Stand Up And Be A Hero. It is a group of 8th graders who have taken the lead to help other students when they need it. Is our school perfect? No, but every day we are getting better and better about protecting our students. I think if more schools rose up and took a stand like we are rather than ignoring it like some of the schools shown in "Bully" our students' futures would be a safer one!
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