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middle school speaker

Bullying Epidemic

I spoke this morning at Carroll Middle School in the Southlake-Carroll School District here in the Dallas / Fort Worth area. One of my main topics this morning was a message to bullies, to those being bullied, and to those who could do something about it. The video link at the end of this post is from a bullying report on HLN. The child being bullied appealed to school officials, and NOTHING was done. Inaction by authority figures closest to the student resulted in a more volitale situation. It makes me sick that so-called teachers and administrators would tell this child it was all in his head.

You know why I believe the child in the video? Because the same thing happened to me in 8th grade.

There was a fellow student in my class who made my life miserable. I hated going to school, and hated even seeing his face. One day, I came to the teacher of the class that the bully and I were in. I told her all of my hurt feelings that the bully had caused. I had never told anyone about my pain before. Her response, “it’s all in your head.” That night, I can remember lying in bed believing that if my appeal to an adult who was closest to the situation didn’t help, that I’d be better off not waking up in the morning. I had never felt more alone and worthless than that day.

There is a good epilogue to this story. The bully was invited to a church retreat when I was a Junior in high school. He approached me one morning to apologize, as he said in his own words, “Jesus is Lord of my life, now, and he would never have done the awful things to you that I did.” While the epilogue is good, the events that transpired in that 8th grade class could have been avoided. That teacher completely failed me and failed in her profession that day by dismissing my pain. She could have easily gotten an administrator involved, but she didn’t. (To be honest, she was a lousy educator, too, but that is a different story.)

I’m glad that the Dragons (students) of Carroll Middle School have the support that I didn’t have. I believe that the administration and teachers’ committment to a positive school enviornment would never allow what I went through to occur. Everyone near a child must understand…feelings are facts. If a child says he or she is the target of a bully, you MUST do something. Kids aren’t killing themselves simply from being bullied. They are killing themselves because they feel like no one cares, and nothing will ever be done to make the pain stop.

Check out this video from HLN of a father (and family) who tried to help, and what occurs when a school administration doesn’t do a thing about bullying. I applaud the efforts of the entire Southlake-Carroll School District, as I believe this would never occur the same way it did in this video below:

Video: Boy arrested for threatening bullies?

Dawson and Carroll Middle Schools – Smilin’ Yet?

I love 7th graders! I mean it! They are some of the best audiences I’ve ever had, and I love their zest for life. Yesterday, I spoke to the “Dragons” at Dawson Middle School and today, it was also the “Dragons” from Carroll Middle School. Not only are these the most well behaved students I’ve ever spoken to, but they are also full of smiles and laughter. Motivating them? That was certainly an easy task! These kids are great!

I challenged each school to participate in “Smile Day” on Monday. Each student in the two schools has been given the task of smiling all day long this coming Monday in an effort to act their way into feeling happy. I give them this challenge to experiment with on a Monday because that’s the hardest day to smile, and if you can be happy on a Monday, you can be happy all week long. Happiness is a choice that each and every one of us has to make every day, and these students will CHANGE the attitudes in their schools if they succeed in smiling all day on Monday.

The Hills of Tennessee

We just returned from a fantastic tour of several spots in Tennessee and Arkansas. The trip started on Wednesday, the 15th, at the Concord Road Church of Christ in Brentwood, TN where a cousin and her family attend. My dad and I presented “All He Needs For Heaven” and we enjoyed having worship led by my cousin’s son. I love being with family.

On Thursday, I spoke to the David Lipscomb Campus School with my “I’m Not Broken” presentation. I had a blast with the students there as they were extremely attentive and had lots of great (and sometimes hilarious) questions for me. There were over 700 students in attendance, and I’ve never seen such a respectful audience. Usually, I kind find a few people talking or playing with cell phones, etc…not in this group of kids! They were awesome! They allowed Jesus to shine through their wonderful attitudes.

On Friday, I got to speak at Friendship Christian School (FCS) in Lebanon, TN. At FCS that day, they held “Commanders in Action” day. (Their mascot is the commander.) For many years, now, the school has held a day when students with disabilities from all over the county can come and enjoy a festival. Each FCS student is paired with a student who has a disability, and they spend the day getting to know each other and playing games. I told the students how proud of them I was, and I believe they were truly accomplishing Jesus’s mission of showing love to everyone. They were a fantastic group, and I believe the beauty of Jesus could be seen in them and in their actions.

On Sunday, my dad and I again delivered our message to both the Otter Creek Church of Christ and the Hermitage Church of Christ. Both churches have plenty of family members to catch up with, and the praise and worship at both churches made it a fantastic day.

After a couple days of rest, we continued on to Bentonville, Arkansas. On Wednesday the 22nd, I spoke at the corporate offices of Wal-Mart. My assigned topic was disability awareness, and I got to tell them about my experiences in life and in the job force. I believe there many things that corporate America can learn to help make people who have disabilities feel wonderful. The executives at Wal-Mart told me that they learned a lot, and it also helped that I had them laughing through most of the presentation.

That night I got to speak at the Decatur Assembly of God Church in Decatur, Arkansas. They could not have been more receptive to the message, and they were one of the most welcoming crowds I’ve ever had the privilege of speaking before. This was my first sermon to deliver by myself, as my dad had already flown home. I had a blast!

While it was exhausting, and Hannah, Joni and I all wound up with colds, the trip was absolutely thrilling. God has opened so many doors, and we continue to be blown away at His generosity. I’ll leave you with a video shot at David Lipscomb campus school that tells a funny story of a time in junior high when a bully decided to pick a fight with me.


Dragons Everywhere!

Last Thursday and Friday, I was given the opportunity to speak to 7th graders from Dawson Middle School and Carroll Middle Schoool (both schools have a dragon for their mascot) in Southlake, TX.  The students were very respectful and asked lots of great questions, but more importantly, they were very receptive to the message of living happier lives by choosing happy, positive attitudes.  

They have been challenged (as I do at every school) to smile for an entire day on the Monday they return from Spring Break.  I call it “The Smile Experiment” and students who smile are changing their schools all over this country.   Here is a great picture of some special students at one of the schools:

Smiling Students with Inspirational Speaker, Chet McDoniel

I encourage you to watch this clip to see how you can “use what you have instead of complaining about what you don’t have” which is one of the lessons I gave to the students: