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  • Writer's pictureDionna Roberts


Updated: Jul 3, 2020

The past seven days of life have been heavy. They have been long and exhausting. The past seven days have been full of reflection and remembrance--blotted with frustrated tears. One week ago, I learned that one of my beloved former students had died in a tragic accident. Heartbroken really doesn't describe the devastation that I felt in my heart as I recalled the everyday moments shared with him as his fourth grade teacher.

Spencer was absolutely one of the kindest, most beautiful souls that I've ever known. He lived life out loud, live, and in living color. His personality radiated an energy that was both charming and contagious. Spencer was genuinely #caring and loving toward everyone around him and was a bright light in our classroom. He was unapologetically authentic, true to himself, and empathetic; everything that the book, I Am Human: A Book of Empathy, written by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter Reynolds, demonstrates across pages.

I Am Human: A Book of #Empathy, by Susan Verde, is a lyrically written reminder that our journeys through life are full of feelings of wonder, exploration, learning, and opportunities to be #human. Being human is sometimes the bravest and scariest thing that we could ever imagine doing. Being human creates opportunities to succeed, but also fail. It allows for the capacity to #love, but also hurt just as deeply. But, one of the most rewarding things about embracing our humanity is accepting the responsibility of choosing each day of how to interact with the world and the other humans who occupy it; how to show #acceptance and #kindness.

In being human, we get to use our voices to Say Something about the things that matter most in our hearts. This is a big deal! Say Something, written by Peter Reynolds is a great text to use with our young people to spread the message of how to stand up for themselves, others, and for what is right.

I am making it my personal business to be sure that I acquaint myself with as many book titles as possible that address kindness, empathy, and advocating for what is right, and share them with others. I will honor and carry Spencer forever in my heart, remembering his way of being beautifully human. There is an uncomfortable sense of urgency in my heart right now. I have to do something. I have to say something. I must use my words and actions to advocate for classrooms and schools to be safe spaces where being authentic and empathetic is expected and celebrated.

Here is a link to a list of book titles recommended by teachers: This is a start. This is a step toward making our world a bit better---a lot kinder.

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