Saturday, June 24, 2017

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

Just when I hoped that bullying in schools was lessening, I heard a heartbreaking story on the news. A girl just 15 years old hanged herself - because of bullies.  This tragedy occurred in the very small town of Bedford, PA, a town with a population of about 3000 people, located about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh. Sadie Riggs just could not take it anymore, and she took what she saw as the only way out - death.

Her obituary is painful to read, with her parents calling out the bullies, as they bare their souls and express their deeply sad feelings to the world. 

Schools can be a wonderful or a torturous place to be, depending on the student. In my 37 years in the classroom, bullying incidents occurred and they were addressed.  Today, bullies flood social media sites with a constant barrage of insults and gibes.  Students can't escape, and kids at age 15 rarely have the confidence to confront the bullies.

What can teachers do?  Teachers must be vigilant! Teachers must extend themselves to their students, and have a solid relationship with them.  Kids in crisis sometimes feel that they can't talk to parents at home, but they still need an advisor or caring adult in their lives.Teachers can present lessons about empathy, and provide activities to make everyone learn to walk in the shoes of another.  Teachers can rearrange the seating chart quarterly or more, so that all students get to know one another as more than just a name. For group activities, the teacher can create the groups by drawing names from a hat or in another fair manner, so that the same kids are not always together and/or alienated.  Helping the students to know each other just requires a little planning and creativity. (I taught in a school building with 1400 students in 2 grades.) 

How can teachers teach the concept of anti-bullying?  Incorporate the concept into everyday lessons is my suggestion. The anti-bullying program chosen by my former school district was a total waste of class time. Although required to "teach" from the lacklustre materials offered, instead, I had real discussions with my students about bullying and why it was so hurtful. Truly, I veered from their limited and limiting topic questions to discuss real student life in our school. Teaching is all about relationships, and students reacted and interacted when the discussion was about our school. 

Teachers, if you model kindness and acceptance in your classroom, students will follow.  I called kids out when they were rude to each other, and I explained why they were rude and how the victim might feel (yes, I embarrassed both parties, but the results were worth it, especially when the offended apologized, which was 95% of the time!) Students are not sure of who they are at 15 (or any age), and they need support from a caring adult.  

Reading stories like this one, or seeing them on the news, just hurts my heart. How would YOU feel if your son or daughter committed suicide because of constant bullying?

I have provided a link to the story from our local Pittsburgh station about this tragedy.

Teachers MUST help students to learn what Eleanor Roosevelt stated so eloquently all those years ago: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  But students need adult support to learn that lesson about self-confidence!  Teachers and parents - be the person who encourages, be supportive, and be kind. Who knows? You might just save a life. 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

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