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Category Archives: Diversity

How fulfilling it is to be a TEACHER!!!!! Yesterday we had a reunion of student leaders of the Diversity Workshop Program from Blair HS. It was so sweet the way they ran out to the car when I turned up, gave me a group hug and wanted to know about my granddaughter, my book, etc. This love came from years of showing up every day, planning meaningful experiences for my students, listening, laughing, helping them find other teens who were having similar experiences, bonding, building skills to help others, learning to love one another on a deep level. It created a community among us that is very deep and real. We KNOW one another after years of leading “Hidden Identities” and “Speak Outs” together in the Diversity Workshop. We are an intense mutual fan club, based on years of very deep and meaningful work together in a crucial period of change for them….and ME!

They nursed me through that last difficult year of my formal teaching career when a particular administrator was trying to kill our workshop and the Peace Studies course, in the name of “teaching to the test” a la “Every Child Left Behind” mandates. I tried my best to remain kind and patient. I tried to apply all the conflict resolution skills I taught the kids, but my young friends knew I was suffering and were a great comfort. We did our best to preserve the wonderful program that had helped thousands of teenagers; but eventually it was stopped, transformed into a club that could no longer hold workshops in classrooms. It was necessary for me to remove myself, so that at least that remnant and the Peace Studies classes could survive with other teachers leading them.

My zen teacher would say “let go.” All things transform, change, pass. I have let go of the day to day classroom schedule, let go of running the powerful Diversity Workshop Program at my old school. When we let go, we allow new fresh sprouts to bloom. Every year, I had to “let go” of several hundred seniors I loved as they transitioned to college or work. The letting go was necessary, so that they could develop their own lives, their own gifts to the world. It was good practice and gave me so many more children to love. I am deeply grateful for my 27 years of formal classroom teaching and for all the other opportunities I have had to teach and learn throughout my whole life. May I remain a student and teacher until I die.

What a thrill to see each of these former students continuing the life transforming work of the Diversity Workshop in their lives and in work with other young people, with rape victims, with art, music, film, with immersion in other cultures and issues that need their insights, enthusiasm and love. They will always be part of me and I part of them.

The Diversity Workshop LIVES!