Every school year you are given a gift. It is yours alone to use, make the most of, and invest.
It’s the gift of time.
Each school year you have the unique opportunity to spend precious hours in your classroom teaching, encouraging, and building into each of your students. The way you use that time can make all the difference for those students who are hurting. Like I was.
I can still remember those hopeless thoughts in my mind, even all these years later. From the outside, everything seemed good. I had two great parents and a sister who loved me and encouraged me. I went to church each Sunday where I also felt supported.
But inside . . . inside I struggled. I struggled with who I was, who I wasn’t, whether I was worth anything. Maybe it was the bullying that I fought on and off throughout my school years that made me want to just be done with everything. I remember the tears. I remember the thoughts that just wouldn’t leave my head. I remember wondering if tomorrow would be any better.
In the middle of the storm, when thoughts are clouded, it can be hard for truth to penetrate, for hope and value to overcome despair and self-hatred.
Looking back, I am so thankful for specific teachers who saw the value in me, came alongside me, and encouraged me. They gave me hope and showed me a different path. And, they made a lasting impact.
I made it out alive, as most of us do, but I am reminded of what a battlefield the school years can be. Whether it’s the girl in your classroom who is visibly down on herself and withdrawn or the boy like me who seems fine on the outside but inside is struggling—each one has a story. Each one deals with a myriad of internal thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Each one questions their value and their worth at times. Each one needs an advocate—someone on their side—someone to remind them of their worth.
Bob Lenz and his Dignity Revolution team specialize in this area. They understand the pressures and challenges kids are facing in today’s culture. They know how to reach these precious students with a message of hope, and they understand how to equip educators like you with tools to help. Since 1982, Bob has spoken in all 50 states to more than 6 million people. His assemblies explore topics like bullying, self-harm, suicide, and substance abuse while using his gift of humor to engage and connect with students. Bob says, “If they laugh, they’ll listen; if they listen, they’ll learn; and if they learn, they can choose to love.”
Each assembly starts out with a performer, such as an illusionist, to break down the walls and draw in students. Then, Bob follows with a presentation filled with stories and humor, meeting students right where they are. His public school assembly programs have been consistently rated among the best in the nation by school administrators, teachers, parents, and most importantly, students.
Dignity Revolution also offers other valuable resources for teachers like you, to equip you to make the most of each moment with your students. For example, their in-person teacher training offers essential bullying prevention strategies which can be customized for your classroom. They also offer the Dignity Revolution Challenge curriculum for grades K-5 and grades 6-12 and Bob Lenz’s book, Dignity Revolution: Standing Up for the Value of Every Person. Each of these resources will provide insights into your students’ lives as well as practical lessons on how to identify and stop bullying.
During one of his school assemblies, Bob speaks to his heart for students by saying, “No matter what people have said to you, no matter how you’ve been treated, no matter what they’ve done to you, whether you’ve been bullied or put down or neglected or abused in any way . . . or if you’ve even made mistakes . . . you have not lost your value.”
As you seek to make the most of the time that you have with your students, consider all that Dignity Revolution has to offer and how it can make a difference in the lives of boys and girls in your school.
Christian educators can use, invest, and make the most of this gift of time with their students. Because . . . every life matters. Every life has value. Every life is worth it.
Shawn is a husband and father of four who lives in Cleveland Ohio. He hosts the Stories of Starters podcast and helps people pursue their passions and make a difference.