Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Broken Chocolate Hearts

Traditionally when we think of Valentine’s Day, we visualize love all around – especially in our schools. Can we ever forget all the boxes we decorated to hold our special treasures and kind words from our peers?

Several years after my parents divorced, a boy sweetly put chocolate hearts in my chair when I was in elementary school. Being oblivious to the gift, I sat down and broke every single one of them. I stood stunned. I stared at the perfect illustration of my sad heart, so frail and broken.

My parents divorced, my chocolate hearts broken.

I held back the tears that day not wanting my classmates to laugh at my over-reaction to such an insignificant event.

Quietly, broken piece by broken piece, I scooped them up in my hand and put them in my lunchbox hoping no one dare ask me what had happened to my hearts.

Mrs. Hayes, my fourth grade teacher, seemed to know that I needed a hug as she gave me a big squeeze as I trailed behind all of my friends out to the playground for recess. That small gesture was a bright spot in my broken-heart day.

Oklahoma divorce rates rank fourth-highest in the nation. As Tulsa County divorce rates are seen near the top of Oklahoma divorce rates, we know that broken hearts live among us. Classrooms are filled with teachers trying to manage and care for children who feel unorganized, unlovable and disillusioned.

Let’s remember to send special Valentine messages to our children’s teachers this year. Teachers are the heroes who bring love to children by taking a blended classroom and creating blended love.

Let’s also push for curriculum in our schools to help all of these broken hearts to mend. Teachers need support as they help patch together children who are hurting, angry and heart-broken. Organizing a child who lives in two places can be an incredible challenge, not to mention the attention to details that can be missed. Our teachers need tools to equip them to handle schedules, behaviors and risk-factors.

Teachers are the hug that starts the day and the consistency that keeps a child feeling secure through predictability. Lesson plans have merged with life lessons, and our teachers continue to step up to the challenge.

Thank you, Mrs. Hayes. Your dedication to making your students feel loved has left this adult child of divorce with a heart message that reads, “I am lovable and capable.”

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