A high school student in Airdrie, Alberta approaches her locker to find that someone has broken in to it. Worse, she discovers that the perpetrator used her iPad to access her Facebook account to tell her to die. Rather than play a victim, the girl decides to turn a negative into a positive and post sticky-notes with positive, encouraging messages around her school. Sounds like a display of compassion and initiative. Sadly, incomprehensibly, however, her school didn't see it that way. Rather, some genius "educrat" decided that this was littering and reprimanded her for this kind act.
This issue is set in my head especially since I took an opportunity at work yesterday to centre out a couple workers (who I don't even know since they work in another part of the plant) for some good work. I'm not trying to sound like I'm bragging here. I'm really not. But I've come to learn that a kind word can go a long way. You never know what that other person is thinking. They could be having the worse day of their life. They might feel unappreciated, misunderstood or simply need a little encouragement. The thing is....you just don't know. A positive word CAN make a difference and this is something I try to put into practice in my own life on a daily basis. Sure, it won't change the world, but it could make a big difference to the person receiving that good word.
Anyhow, that is the back story to why this incident here speaks to me. Frankly, my first though was that the principal of this school is a very poor leader, a complete idiot, or maybe worse. After stewing over it I thought I do a bit of searching to find out just who this principal was since now name was given in any news source I've seen yet. Ah, the wonders of the internet. Of course, it didn't take long to find a name and an email. And of course, I couldn't just leave it at that. I had to email the guy. Now, its not clear whether the principal was the individual who delivered the reprimand however, as the principal of the school one would expect that he would have the final say in disciplinary decisions. The buck stops here, as the old saying goes....leadership 101.
The principal's name is Ed Polhill. Here's what I wrote......
Dear Mr. Polhill,
It is with great concern that I read of a decision by the administration of your school to reprimand a student who did a brave thing by standing up to bullies. As a parent and former educator myself, I find this move very disappointing. A good word to a person, be it verbal or in the form of a short written note (as was the case here) can make a big difference in a person's day. Surely the upside of this is worth more than the value of a few sticky-notes. I find it sad that your school puts more value on joining the anti-littering, environmentalist band wagon than on the value of students. With respect, this is shameful. Perhaps if you got out of your office and actually spoke to some of the students you would get a better sense of how this one kind-hearted student's altruism put a positive spin on their day. Sometimes the actions of one student are just as effective at combatting a problem as are fancy jargon and programs from all sorts of experts on the topic of bullying. I feel what this young lady did was quite admirable. She should be thanked for showing some initiative, turning a negative into a positive and contributing in such a healthy way to her school. She certainly should not be reprimanded. This is ridiculous.