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Adapting the School Setting

Teacher Opened Her Homeroom to Student

By Virginia Beaston, physical education teacher, Kansas, Ohio 

Years ago, we had a very charismatic football coach in our high school who favored his "cool" players and often ridiculed others, like Joe.

Joe was on the heavy side. His appearance could have also benefited from braces, proper hygiene, and clothing that was not tattered. I had Joe in my math class. He enjoyed reasonable success. At that school in those days, we had a lengthy homeroom period that focused on helping develop the whole child. My group met in the library. I used the time to build cohesive groups, investigate career choices, and have appropriate fun. The football players met down the hall in the coaches’ room where they talked sports and sometimes made disparaging remarks about other students, including Joe.

One day, Joe came storming into my homeroom. He was very upset and near tears. He asked to change homeroom period to the library because of what was going on in the coaches’ room. I said, "Sure," without really thinking about it. Almost three years later, Joe graduated. During that time, he had started working and no longer had time for football practice.

On Commencement Day, he invited me to his graduation party. I was hesitant to attend because two of Joe's relatives were former students of mine and we had had some "issues." I wasn't looking forward to seeing them. In the end, I took my 10-year-old daughter with me to the party, which was held in the gravel parking lot where Joe and his family lived.

As soon as Joe saw me, he came up and gave me a hug and said: "You know I wouldn't have been on that stage today if it wasn't for you." Soon, his mother walked up carrying a large basket with a beautiful house plant. "Joe and I want you to have this for everything you did. If you hadn't got him out of that coaches' room and helped him deal with the other players who were so mean to him, he would have been kicked out of school."

I was speechless. I stood there with the plant in my hands, tears running down my cheeks. After we left the party, I sobbed all the way down the road. I even had to pull over to compose myself.

About the Author
Virginia "Ginni" Beaston, is currently an elementary physical education teacher at Lakota Central and West Elementary Schools in Kansas, Ohio (Sandusky County). Over the course of her twenty-nine years of teaching, she has been a high school math teacher, a high school health and physical education teacher, an athletic director, head volleyball coach, and now an elementary physical education teacher.