I had the rare opportunity on April 6 to be interviewed by Rob Kendall of WYRZ 98.9 FM radio in Brownsburg to discuss They're Our Kids on the "Central Indiana Today" show.
We talked about They're Our Kids, parenting in general, Macaroni Kid - Hendricks, the Kiwanis Club of Danville, the pros and cons of social media, the education system, and Danville schools.
I even talked a little bit about myself if you're interested in learning more about me.
As a society, we spend a lot of time and effort tearing each other down.
We talk behind each other's backs, we sabotage each other, we bully each other, we say and post cruel and hurtful things about each other, and we celebrate when people crack under the social pressure or when they fail at something that means a lot to them.
Fans of one sports team revel in the failures of rival sports teams. (I'm guilty of that, as my New England Patriots fan of a brother-in-law can attest.) Commenters on virtually any online news story post hateful things about the subject of the article. I've heard some rotten comments from parents and coaches at youth sporting events, and it only takes a minute or two in a local chatter group on Facebook to see how heartlessly nasty we can be to each other.
But about the time that my faith in humanity starts to wane, someone like my daughter's assistant coach does something to restore it and demonstrates the power of praise.
GUEST BLOGGER MEGHAN STRITAR
As a parent, I am continuously thinking about how we are preparing the next generation to run this world. I think about our environmental choices and financial planning.
One key piece many people are not thinking about is social media.
This is new territory for us. I remember sitting at a teacher training when Facebook first became a ‘thing,’ and the heated discussion was based on if social media was going to stay around or not. Well, I think it is -- and growing tremendously with Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Periscope, and probably a new one this week that I’m too uncool for.
We all know that kids learn from watching us and following our lead. What are we communicating to OUR KIDS on social media channels for all to see?
The Grinch stole Christmas from students in Plainfield and Danville schools on Dec. 17 when threats of violence were made toward both communities' high schools, resulting in both school corporations closing all of their schools on what would have been the final day of class before Christmas break.
You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
However, just like the Who's down in Whoville in Dr. Seuss' Christmas classic, we will prevail. Why? Because a situation like this one makes for an excellent teaching moment with OUR KIDS.
We seem to be Frozen at just under 500 likes on our Facebook page, so For the First Time in Forever, we'll do a prize giveaway In Summer once we hit 500 likes.
I have in my grubby little mitts a brand-new factory-sealed two-disc deluxe edition "Frozen" soundtrack that I'm just dying to give away to a Villager after we reach the half-century mark in Facebook page "likes."
So be sure to "like" our Facebook page and then share it with all your friends, Elsa we're going to have to Let It Go.
Anna we don't want to do that.
Surely by now, you've seen all sorts of videos on social media of people getting buckets of ice water poured over their heads in support of ALS -- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Yet I still find people who don't understand the Ice Bucket Challenge or what it does for the ALS Association. (Hey, I'm not judging. I had to do some research myself.)
I got tired of staring at the boring ol' "Blog" title at the top of this blog. The blog needed a name and some personality -- something that embraces what They're Our Kids is all about.
Welcome, then, to The Village.
To paraphrase an African proverb, it takes a village to raise OUR KIDS. It has long been a belief of mine that no one can effectively raise a child on their own. It takes family, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches and other role models.
It takes an entire community.
It takes an entire community because we all have different talents, interests, areas of expertise and life experiences to share. OUR KIDS' lives are exponentially enriched by all of the villagers around them because OUR KIDS observe and learn from everyone with whom they have contact.
OUR KIDS are exposed to new things and exciting adventures when an entire village takes an interest in their development. They're kept safe and out of trouble when an entire village keeps an eye on them. And ultimately, the village benefits when OUR KIDS grow up and become contributing villagers themselves.
This is the premise around which They're Our Kids is built. We're all members of a community, and each child in that community is one of OUR KIDS.
I envision They're Our Kids as an online village where we can all come together in one spot and learn about our schools, local events and other community resources that assist us in raising OUR KIDS. The more villagers we have seeking and sharing resources and experiences, the better.
Now that we have our Village, we need Villagers.
Note the capital 'V' in Villagers. We're not talking about run-of-the-mill villagers now. We're talking about the special, dedicated Villagers who cherish OUR KIDS.
Our Villagers buy into the philosophy that it takes a special, dedicated Village to raise OUR KIDS, and that the more Villagers we have seeking and sharing resources and experiences, the better for all of us.
Our Villagers are those who subscribe to our blog (note the new feature in the right-hand column of this blog and on our home page), who spread the word about They're Our Kids and this blog to their friends and family, who "like" and share and actively participate on our Facebook page, who follow us on Twitter.
Our Villagers offer suggestions for additions to the They're Our Kids website, share kid-related resources that they find helpful so that those resources can be added to the site, and share family-friendly events in the area that they'd like other Villagers to know about.
Got some writing skills (don't worry...you don't have to be perfect -- or anywhere close to it) and a story to share with other Villagers about your experiences as a parent or something fun that you did with your kids? Contact me about submitting a guest blog entry! I'd love to read about your experiences, and I'm sure other Villagers would, too.
(Unfortunately, I cannot offer monetary compensation for guest bloggers. I don't get paid to do this, either.)
I've already had some Villagers alert me to Easter Egg hunts in Hendricks County that I didn't know about, special needs resources that they value for their own special needs kids, youth sports leagues that I didn't know existed (did you know that there's a youth LACROSSE league in Brownsburg?!), and suggestions for pages on local service clubs and local media and publications.
I LOVE the extra eyes and ears, and I want all the Villagers I can get! Together, we can cover Hendricks County like a blanket and make our Village an invaluable resource for parents in the area, as well as for parents who want to learn more about our area.
And OUR KIDS are going to be the ones who benefit.
Will you please become a Villager?
We have had some uncommonly brutal winter weather here in central Indiana this month, resulting in countless school delays and closings. School corporations utilize a variety of different methods to notify parents of changes to the school schedule, including through social media (and I try to keep up with them, too, on the They're Our Kids Facebook page).
Normally, all six public school corporations within Hendricks County are on the same page when it comes to delays and cancellations, but last night, we had the rare instance of three corporations canceling school due to today's brutal cold, while three others opted instead to go with a two-hour delay.
Within two of the school corporations who announced a two-hour delay on Facebook, many parents unleashed their fury through comments on the corporations' social media sites. Most of the comments were less than constructive in nature.
We have gotten so used to social media that it's easy to forget just how far our comments travel and who they impact, so I have a few reminders for us all:
This winter has been crazy, and we're all tired of being cold, cooped up in the house, and having our work schedules perpetually disrupted by school closings and delays. Trust me, I'm right there in that boat.
But bashing school corporations -- or anyone else -- on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media is nothing but negative and mean-spirited.
Let's all try to remember the Golden Rule: treat others as we would like them to treat us.
We wouldn't like it if school personnel got on our social media site and publicly bashed us for how badly we're doing our jobs. Our first response would be that they have no idea what they're talking about because they don't do our jobs.
The same applies to us. We don't know all the factors that go into a decision on delays or closures, so let's not pretend that we're on to some secret motivation behind the school corporation's decision or that the administration has a collective IQ lower than that of a rock. There is no big conspiracy, and these are well-educated, well-trained people who are making these decisions. Understand that this is not a typical winter in Indiana. The schools are doing the best they can in unfamiliar territory.
Don't forget that our children model our behavior, so when they see, hear or read us making angry comments about school officials, they in turn think it's okay to treat their teachers -- or their fellow students -- the same way. We're a society that is sensitive to bullying, and yet we're teaching our kids by example how to bully.
We have a couple of much more constructive or productive options on how to handle decisions that upset or anger us.
First, there's the old adage that if we don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
But if we're so upset or angered by a decision that we feel the need to let someone know, let's try a personal letter or email to a school administrator, rather than a public tongue-lashing on social media. (Click here to find your school corporation's website and contact information.) Our chances of getting a response or orchestrating meaningful change increase a thousand-fold when we treat others the way we'd want to be treated.
To understand more about the inner workings of our school corporations, let's get more active with parent-teacher organizations, attend school board meetings, and communicate more frequently with teachers and school administrators -- and not just when things aren't going our way.
And let's just keep the kids out of it entirely. We'll avoid poisoning our kids' minds about school, and we'll also keep ourselves out of presentations made around the world on how not to use social media.
Don't worry. Spring will be here soon.
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