The Gift of A Book

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, allow me to suggest the most wonderful gift for your loved one—the gift of a book.

Throughout my journey in education and life, some of the best things I’ve given or received are books. I recently gave my wife a book about the kings and queens of England and Scotland. She holds strongly to her Scottish ancestry with a last name of “Stuart.”

I’m fortunate to have received several books over the years from dear friends, family and fellow teachers and administrators. The books and topics ranged from famous American leaders and their writings, to teacher help books that focus on teaching strategies, discipline, professional development and the latest trends in education.

There is a certain excitement in sharing with others what you have discovered.

One of the most powerful and influential books I have ever read is “Bullying Prevention & Intervention” by Susan Swearer, Dorothy Espelage, and Scott Napolitano, 2009. This book helped me better understand current research, and I was able to work with teaching staff, parents and students to apply strategies to deal with student bullying and the victims of this hurtful behavior.

A good book can become a very personal experience, whereby you get to dig deep down within its presented thoughts, weigh your own experiences against those presented thoughts and arrive at a whole new level of meaning about specific concepts. This can lead you to a new and different point. It is truly magic without the smoke and mirrors.

So—hurry! There is still time to find a book for someone special in your life. Sharing the journey of a great book is a wonderful feeling!

Please share your book suggestions in the comments!

“Have You Met Any Actual Teenaged People?!”

Barbara
Barbara Wolf Shousha, UNHS Director

I did not ask this question. But I wanted to.

I had to bite my tongue as I listened to a group of adults discuss the teens at a nearby coffee shop table. The students under discussion were wearing earbuds and likely could not hear the remarks…

  • “They only care about their music and their phones.”
  • “They don’t take anything seriously.”
  • “They’re young; they don’t have to be serious. This is their time to be free of responsibilities.”

My kinder nature triumphed over snark, so I did not wade in to the strangers’ discussion. But I felt irritated because the conversation represented what I dislike about the two extremes in how our culture regards teenagers

  1. Either people judge teens as shallow and unserious or
  2. They pander to youth as too young to handle any actual responsibilities

To listen to some of the comments, you would think these adults were anthropologists examining some strange culture: “Observe, the teen….in it’s natural habitat…”

Here’s a tip: Teenagers are people. You can actually meet them and interact with them and learn about them as individuals.

As an educator, I have studied developmental theory and stages of development. I’ve read literature about adolescent brain development. But nothing substitutes for real experience.

We are fortunate to work with young people as they develop their academic and personal skills. We see students balance academics and sports and arts and volunteerism and family obligations and work.

Young, yes.
Unserious? Sometimes.
But they are not free from responsibilities.

We challenge students because we want the best from them and for them. We hold them accountable because we believe that they should want the best from themselves. We understand that they do not always want to learn verb forms and periodic elements. (We ARE nerds, but we are realistic nerds.) And yet, we see them step up and meet their responsibilities and do the work of becoming educated people.

We’re proud of them.

If you’d like to meet some of the actual teenaged people with whom we have worked, feel free to check out some of our student profiles.