This week, hard facts were everywhere.

Look to the left, find sorrow in the aftermath of a mass shooting on Las Vegas. Look to the right, see fires moving through Northern California. Look a few weeks back, see hurricane waves and winds snuffing out lights and prospects in island and coastal communities. Look into a child’s eyes, find a flurry questions, some spoken, some not. Look into your own heart, find a well of uncertainty, as well as a need to come up with not only the right thing, but also the true thing, to say to the children in our care.

At times like these, I find myself thinking about other trying times in history. Growing up, like many others I was a little bit obsessed with Anne Frank. I wanted to know a person like her. She was so brave. I conjure little Anne in my mind’s eye and marvel at her resolve, her optimism, and her commitment to creating a legacy of the hard facts she and her family faced.

I hear echoes of her work in the brave words and actions of people like Michelle Gay, the mother of Josephine Gay who was killed at Sandy Hook and founder of Safe and Sound Schools. In the face of such hard facts in her own life, Michelle has built a legacy for her daughter and a bridge to the future by bringing awareness to the issue of school safety.

Listening to Michelle speak about the day her life changed forever, December 14, 2012, I was struck by the power that is within each of us to find something meaningful to say and do in the face and wake of hard things. I was reminded of these famous words from Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 

Wonderful — yes. And necessary.



Jessica is a doctoral candidate, education consultant, writer and editor. She is the founder of bookclique, a collaborative of English teachers and students working to promote book culture, and a co-founder of Well-Schooled, the site for educator storytelling, dedicated to sharing first-person educator stories. All Rights Reserved - What I Learned Today in School.

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