Eight days ago, the world awoke to a shocking revelation: Donald Trump was the new President of the United States. Leading up to the elections, many were in denial about his ability to pull off the win, and others worried about a win, threatened to leave the country – even went as far as researching viable new homes. I was one of these people. Given the number of people who went out and voted for a Trump presidency, I realize that by making such a statement, I risk isolating half of our readership. But hear me out:
As an educator and a parent, my focus is always on the children. How is what I do impacting their development? How do they see a situation? How is a certain situation going to affect their behavior? What can I do better to give them a brighter future? During this election season, I never once considered policy promises. I know better than to believe a president has so much power that he or she is able to hold true to all of their promises – they have a lot of red tape to cut through. Instead, I looked to the candidates to act as role models for our younger generations.
Children look to the adults in their lives as models for their own behavior. Toddlers want to be just like mommy and daddy. I currently have an almost-4-year-old who, every day, wants to dress like me. Young children look up to their parents, teachers, and community leaders to set examples for them. They dream of the day they can be a policeman, a firewoman … the president. And, for me, Donald Trump’s poor behavior made it impossible for me to cast my vote in his favor. Can he be the change that Washington needs? Perhaps. Is he a brilliant businessman who has stellar negotiating skills and could possibly lower our national debt? There’s a strong possibility.
But for me, his schoolyard bully tactics have no place in the Oval Office. His treatment of women, minorities, veterans, and quite frankly, anyone who does not agree with him, along with his inability to even consider an opposing view, make him a threat to the children of the world. I worry that he sends the message that it is acceptable, even encouraged, to ridicule, make fun of, and isolate those who are different from you or those you don’t like. As a teacher, I feel that he threatens to undo the very message millions of teachers across this nation have worked so hard to impart on our younger generation.
On Wednesday morning, I stood in the middle school commons where I work, and I watched as our younger generation came together to console one another and their teachers. I watched as teachers, administrators, and counselors held onto the hope that what we do in our classrooms and within the walls of our own community, will have a greater impact than one man in the Oval Office will. And it was in that moment that I was reaffirmed in my purpose. I could not run and hide in Canada along with the millions of other Americans who threatened to leave. If I run away, I let the hatred and bigotry win. Instead, I have to stand tall, be proud to be an American, and continue to do the work I do: to develop an empathetic, kind, and respectful younger generation. And I have to help others to do the same.
Together, we can be the movement that America needs. Together, we can make a difference. And Meredith and I want to help you to be the change. Beginning next Spring, Meredith and I will offer Professional Development to teachers, parents, and administrators focused on the development and implementation of advisory and mentor programs aimed at the emotional development and well-being of your children. Our PD opportunities will allow attendees to explore the different avenues of childhood and adolescent development, and how we can best support the growth of our younger generations. Together, we can be the role models that our children need. Together, we can teach them how to stand for their own values while still hearing and considering opposing views. Together, we can ensure that the future America is a country for all people.