Phil Elwood and I were in the same R.O.U.T.P. division during the summers of 1978 and 1979, and we keep in contact to this day. He is the consummate nice guy – a true gentleman. Throughout my adult life, Phil has been the standard to which I have compared good people. I have met and worked with many who have been as good as Phil but none were better. In the navy we all agreed that Phil was the type of fellow you would want your sister to date; in fact, he is such a nice guy, most would be OK if he dated their wives.
In the late 90’s, Pokemon cards came on the scene. They were quite a hit with kids but, in many school hallways and on many playgrounds, they led to fighting and other disruptive behaviours. It reached a point where they were banned from many elementary schools. Personally, I think teachers missed a golden opportunity. Imagine a collection of these cards being used for the teaching of thinking strategies: observing, comparing/contrasting, sequencing, grouping, etc. One would certainly have the attention and enthusiasm of the class.
One Monday morning I received a call from a mother whose son (grade 4) can home quite upset the previous Friday. She explained how he had been goaded (bullied) into trading one of his favourite Pokemon cards by an older student (another reason many schools banned them). She asked if there was anything I could do in helping him get his card back. I looked at the pile of paperwork on my desk and considered the number of issues I was trying to resolve. In addition to being the principal, during my time at MCS I average a 0.35 teaching assignment; ie, I spent 1/3 of the day in the classroom teaching. That particular week was going to be as busy as any of them and I asked myself, do I really want to get involved with what seemed like such a trivial manner? I then imagined my own son in a similar situation and realized how I would feel as a parent. I told her I would look into it and get back to her.
As I made my way to the young fellow’s classroom I thought to myself, where is this going to lead? I figured it wouldn’t take too much time to, at least, ask a few questions. Hopefully, the student with whom he made the trade had the card at the school and we could clean this up rather quickly.
The grade 4 student became somewhat teary as I asked him about the card. He answered my questions and gave me the name of the older fellow, and I realized that this could well have been a case of bullying. I thanked him for his cooperation and located the older boy.
Now I could include much more detail but here is the bottom-line. During the weekend, the card changed hands twice and was now in the possession of a fellow who attended school in the city. I thought to myself, “Ah man! This is becoming a real headache. How much more time is this going to take?” Fortunately, I knew the principal of the city school. When I called and explained the situation, he was understanding and more than willing to help me out.
I have to admit that I was quite pleased with myself when, the following week, I was able to hand the young fellow his card back. I told him that during school time he was not to do any more trading unless he was 100% happy with the trade. I explained that that was going to be the one and only time I would be willing to intervene in such a situation. He agreed, told me he understood and skipped off to class.
I don’t know what else I accomplished that week, but, for one youngster at least, I made a difference. In his eyes it was worth my time and energy.
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