One of my favorite students from a few semesters ago was a carefree, blond hair, sunny smiled young woman. Within 1 week after school started she had befriended the whole class. Whichever group she was in laughed the most, created the most and inspired me the most. I found out today that she committed suicide this past fall.I started thinking: What did I do wrong? Did I tell her she looked cute enough or did I tell her so often that it sounded insincere. Did I write meaningful remarks on her papers or did I just put little checks? Did I do my best to make her aware of just how special she was? I hope I did the right things. I hope that all of her teachers did.
I am used to college students with problems. Some have no place to live, no insurance, no boyfriends or girlfriends, no best friends. She had all of these things. She especially had great friends. Please, don’t let a sunny smile and a group of the best friends ever make you not dig deeper to make sure that everything is ok. Reach out to your students and let them know you are there for them and that there are resources for them.
If your students are depressed, have anorexia or bulimia there are great centers in Montgomery County called The Growth Opportunity Centers. Visit their site at: https://www.gocenter.net/
Find out who your students representatives in the Pennsylvania Congress for help with housing or healthcare.
Senator Leanna Washington’s office is extremely helpful: www.senatorwashington.com/
Representative Allyson Schwartz’s off is immensely helpful as well: schwartz.house.gov/
From now on I will be presenting these resources the first day of class. It could be great if all of the teachers in our area did the same. Perhaps we will prevent another phenomenal group of friends from losing a most phenomenal member of their group.