Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"The best way to demotivate and lose top performers is by rewarding mediocrity." Jameson St. Claire

Enoe Alvarez on LinkedIn 

I was in the classroom for 37 years, and for 35 of those years, I taught at North Allegheny, one of the best school districts in both Pennsylvania and the United States.  Academic competition was keen, and many of our students gained entry to top 10 universities and went on to great careers  Students worked hard to win recognition, and the quest to achieve the status of senior class speakers was extremely competitive.  Our school district creates and continues to sustain a culture of excellence, and they also continue to recognize excellence in the classroom, in sports, and in all aspects of Education.  North Allegheny continues to prepare students for the competition they will face in the real world, and students benefit from the competition. 

I was quite perplexed when I heard that a school district in Ohio has decided not to recognize any student as a valedictorian or salutatorian in the coming school year.  The reason?  Concerns about student mental health, including depression, anxiety, and suicide. 

Although I recognize the importance of mental health and stress, I believe the school district is actually hurting the students by removing the competition. Losing and winning small battles through the school years  helps students to learn to deal appropriately with bigger disappointments in later life, and how to win with grace and humility. In the current culture of "everyone gets a trophy", students need to learn that they are not going to be rewarded for participation, and that competition will become a way of life - in college, in the job search, and in maintaining and advancing in the work world. This should be a lesson learned while in school, but with no stress/no competition values, that lesson is going to be exponentially more shocking when it happens in college or an employment situation. I really believe that removing academic competition in school is doing a huge disservice to the students. When students face true competition, my fear is they will fail and fold, since they will have no real life experience with the inability to make the grade. I believe in encouraging and recognizing EXCELLENCE, not rewarding mediocrity.  Kids need to understand failure in order to understand success. 

"The best way to demotivate and lose top performers is by rewarding mediocrity." Jameson St. Claire

If you have not heard about Mason High School, here are two links to the story.

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 and 2018 (new edition) from The Authors' Zone.Grady also won a 2018 prestigious Moonbeam Award for Best Children's Book with Merchandise.

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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