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Opinion / Storytellers

It’s Time To Wake Up! A Teen Suicide & How Teachers Can Make A Difference

Editor’s Note: We all share deep sadness when we lose a young person to suicide.  Suicide knows no race, creed or class. In this blog, we have asked permission to share Breakfast Club blogger Kathy Bihr’s personal Facebook post and reflection about a young man in Orange County, CA who took his life in the first week of February. Our hearts and souls live with the family who lost their son. Please share carefully, but share far and wide. Patrick’s story is not singular.  

I was asked why I wrote this – here you go: Over the weekend I read the letters left by Patrick Turner, a local teenager who committed suicide. He cited examples of the stress and pressure of school and particularly called out his teachers as part of the problem. He goes on to talk about endless busy work being given in class, tests that cover materials not taught (or glossed over), and taunting from teachers. The people he describes are real people. I have seen them in the places I have worked – they exemplify the worst of classroom teachers. They believe their content and classrooms are their personal fiefdom – and don’t work to help students learn. Instead, they exist to make students feel inferior. I am outraged. We all should be. I don’t know Patrick Turner, but I know plenty of students like him. His death shouldn’t be in vain.

Thoughts on Teaching

  • If you believe that you can make a difference to one…teach
  • If you believe in your ability to break down content into understandable bites…teach
  • If you believe you can inspire young people through literature…teach
  • If science, innovation and preparing youth for the future excites you…teach
  • If you love math, numbers, equations and can help others learn how to effectively use them…teach
  • If you believe our future depends on learning from our history…teach
  • If learning gets you excited to know more and be more…teach
  • If you can see the soul of a child beyond the color of their skin…teach
  • If you will stop bullying, racial injustice, and unfairness between children…teach
  • If you will stop bullying, racial injustice, and unfairness from your teaching colleagues…teach
  • If you will accept responsibility to ensure that EVERY student in your care learns…teach
  • If you can’t do the above…find another career

Children deserve to have a teacher who believes in them, is passionate about what they teach, and makes no excuses. Children should view their teacher as an advocate, not an adversary.


Author: @kathybihr

For breakfast, I had Cheerio’s.

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