Friday, June 30, 2017

"You begin saving the world by saving one person at a time . . . " Charles Bukowski

Pittsburghers shared a story with the rest of the world this week - a story of heroism and heartbreak and inspiration.  Major league baseball umpire John Tumpane was in town to call the Pirates-Rays game. He was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge when he saw a woman climb over the rail, presumably to jump to her death.  He ran to her and talked with her, and he held her until help arrived, refusing to allow her to end her life. He encouraged her to talk to him about her problems; she answered by telling him that he would forget her. John promised he would not forget, and he assured her that people were there to help her.  911 emergency responders arrived after John and others restrained the woman, saving her from jumping.She was taken for evaluation, those involved with the incident were shaken, and when the story was on the local news, the story went viral. People cared - and they got involved, saving the woman from hurting herself. These people are heroes. 

This real-life drama made me think about teaching, about saving kids,  and about my days in the classroom.  So often, teachers are confronted with their own kind of "jumpers"; those students who have no interest, no incentive, and no self-worth.  These students try to "do themselves in" by not studying, not participating, and not caring about school.  Good teachers know that these students are actually crying out for help; they want and need a caring teacher to care about their well-being, to help see themselves in a new light, and to save them from themselves and to find hope.  Personally,I encountered hundreds of these students in my 37 years career.  Any teacher who has taught "underachievers" or "challenged learners" knows what I am talking about. Sometimes, the teacher has to call the "school 911 emergency responders", who arrive in the in the guise of guidance counselors, the school nurse, parents, other teachers, coaches, etc., because saving a student sometimes takes an entire community of caring,  It is all worth the team effort - to save a life, to save a child, to instill hope and positivity, and to help the student to grow, learn, mature, and make better choices.

I am impressed with the actions of John Tumpane, because he got involved as a helper, he did not stand on the periphery and watch, as a disinterested bystander. He made the heroic choice to get involved and make a difference.  It is the same with teaching. Students "jumpers" are vying for the teacher's attention, and their futures lives depend on the dedication and tenacity of the teachers to help them through the crises.  You can be a hero teacher. Save the world, one person at a time.

Links to the story of John Tumpane and the jumper: 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 
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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!

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