Making a difference amid a school's culture of cruelty is Em Hunter's account of teaching at an inner city middle school:
Students have rebuffed many of my efforts – and even tested my faith in humanity. The acts of grace I've glimpsed, however, give me hope that the struggle against cruelty is well worth waging.
I wanted to believe in the power of kindness. Still, I couldn't find much evidence. Walking through the halls, my ears were assaulted by torpedoed insults and profanity. My school was a war-torn land where teachers, administrators, and students fought one another relentlessly.
Out of the blue, we were given tickets to see "To Kill a Mockingbird." As we sat in the theater, I watched my students. They absorbed every word, motionless, caught in the grip of that powerful story. I had never seen them like that before. Afterward, one of my students wrote that he was "in awe." Another wrote that he admired the character Atticus Finch because he stood up for others.
Another glimpse came when students became enthusiastic about our kindness project on www.givinggame.org. When the students tried to do kind deeds for teachers and a few didn't respond, I recognized the disappointed expression on their faces.
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