Sunday, May 25, 2014

I HAVE HAD IT! On the Road to One Book and a Mighty YAWP!

I have had it.

I'm showing my anger like Pope Francis did recently in Jordan.  He is angry about the war in Syria lasting too long.
The People's Pope is angry with war in general, of course, but Syria is on his hit list right now.

I'm angry, too.

Right now, on my hit list, is the murderous rampage that happened in Santa Barbara on Friday night.  I'm angry about the loss of Christopher Martinez and five other innocents and the wounding of thirteen people trying to live their lives.  I'm angry that Christopher's father had to be enraged and lost and broken.

I'm angry that we, as educators, don't do enough to talk to kids, to provide them with the places/resources that they may rely on for help when they are feeling desperate and lonely and scared and, yes, even murderous, resentful and revengeful.  I am angry that we are afraid to open up with students and, when we do, and they share they have problems they don't know how to deal with, we don't know how to go forward with giving them help.  I'm angry that we don't all have the answers at our fingertips.

Sure, there are guidance counselors, substance abuse counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, Intervention and Referral services, and others.  I am glad they are there, don't get me wrong, but we need to be prepared for that one open discussion that could come at any time in our classrooms or in the hallways or in our libraries, where a student or any number of students, could be calling out for help.

We shouldn't be spending time in schools practicing lock down drills.  We should be spending time talking to kids openly about what abuse, loneliness, differences, sadness, drugs, anxiety, misunderstanding, alcohol, bullying, and frustration do to our souls, our spirits, our psyche.  We've all been there.  Yet, we need to learn and we can share with our students where to go, what to say, who to approach, how to get help.  I know first hand how hard it is to pick up the phone, admit you are struggling, and ask for help from a stranger, but it is the best, very best thing I ever did.

So, what am I doing about my anger?

I am pushing forward to develop a program, originally called One Book One School, with a young, wonderfully talented librarian, Meg Finney.  We plan to use Evan Roskos' debut young adult novel, Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, as our literature link to discussions about teen anxiety, depression, self-mutilation, abuse, and more.  We want to offer teens a voice-a way to find themselves, realize their potential, celebrate themselves!

So, in the footsteps of Roskos' main character, James Whitman, and Christopher Martinez's father, Richard,  I intend to YAWP! about the issues teens face everyday.  Without help or hope they become the destroyer of lives-their own or others' lives.  I want to help them, give them hope to become builders, celebrators, collaborators, friends.

I am angry. I do not want this to happen any longer.  How about you?  Can you find a way to help end the madness?  Can you find a way to say "Stop this madness...Not one more!"

See more about Evan Roskos and Dr. Bird at  or follow him on Twitter @EvanJRoskos. YAWP!

Please see for a recent webinar entitled How to Tell When a Kid is Emotionally Struggling

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