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LIVE & LEARN: Courage, Easily Spoken of But Difficult to Act Upon

| January 26, 2016 | 0 Comments | Live & Learn

liveandlearnlogoThe word “courage” brings many images and representations to mind: military personnel protecting our country or police, fire, & EMS first responders running toward the danger and saving lives. I think of nurses and the love and care given to patients while healing. I think of the men and women who drive the snow plows to keep roads clear and citizens safe. They are working hard right now to clear the roads as “snowzilla” attacks! I think of some elected officials – those who are in the business for the right reason of making change and helping people, instead of those who have vendettas or are seeking revenge for irrational reasons.

I recently witnessed an act of courage by a colleague and friend. Understanding the consequences of not conforming to the crowd, he stood up against a tyrannical leader and did the right thing, because he stood up for his beliefs. Standing up for what is right, going against the norm, is hard and scary. Over the past 16 years, I have had to stand up for my students. While I was concerned about the ramifications, I knew I had to fight for them. The results were positive for the students, yet I received some backlash for speaking out. I was okay with that, as long as my students got the resources and services they deserved.

Courage is an interesting notion. Social media sites and blogs have created powerful and heartfelt advocates, pot stirrers, instigators, and cowards. I’m always intrigued by anonymous blogs – why hide behind a fake name? Unfortunately many of these blogs are published to cause fear and uncertainty in those who read them. When I peruse the Facebook pages, I read about real concerns from school employees. These employees are frustrated or angry; I understand both feelings. I ask them to step forward and contact either the school division or school board with their concerns. Your voices should be heard! Your concerns must be addressed!

Standing up for what is right is one of the hardest things one can do, but the more it’s done, the easier it gets. I live by the following quote from Coco Chanel: “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Even more important to remember is a quote from Winston Churchill: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” In education, too many decisions and actions take place without listening to others or thinking about unintended consequences. Act first; speak later is not always the way to make positive change. Speak first; act later is how effective change is made. Are these decisions and actions in the best interest of the children?

Enjoy the “snowcation” days. Read many books. Snuggle with pets. Relive your childhood with your kids. Take naps. Eat chocolate. Drink wine. Think about courage, non-conformity, and standing up for what is right and best for the students of Prince William County Schools.

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” ― Nora Ephron

Riley O’Casey is a local educator who teaches middle school social studies. She is also an active member of the Prince William County Education Association.

This column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Bristow Beat, its writers or sponsors.

© 2016, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Live & Learn

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