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Doing Right in Small Moments Matters

By Cultures Of Dignity | October 13, 2016

It’s easy to get down right now. But we need to remember that in spite of all the ugliness and meanness that surrounds us, many of us all over the country continue to stand for what’s right.

Zachary Wiseman, a Technology Education teacher at Catonsville High School in Baltimore County is a perfect example of how teachers are ethical leaders every day and kids and parents are recognizing it. At an ethnically and economically high school of over 1800 students, Mr. Wiseman doesn’t teach an anti-bullying class, he teaches graphic design, and yet he creates a culture of dignity in his classroomWe are working with teachers all over the country just like Mr. Wiseman to give them the resources to make more of these moments happen.

Below are the letters Mr. Wiseman received from a parent and his student, and we couldn’t help but share how his small moments made a major impact.

Hi there-
I am Margaret’s mom – I wanted to send you a quick note to thank you for your comments today in class. According to Maggie, you set a firm zero tolerance policy for some students who used homophobic language while in your care. I have a daughter in middle school and a daughter in high school and they have both described situations where students were using really hurtful language. Teachers heard it but chose not to seize the opportunity for a teaching moment. THANK YOU for deciding that it was important, and taking the time to address it. Believe me, both the hurtful language AND the adults who enter into the moment and take a stand, are noticed by all the kids in attendance. You are not teaching in vain! Thanks, our family appreciates when you make a line in the sand against words that bruise and scar.
Martha Montgomery

Mr. Wiseman’s actions aren’t happening in a vacuum. Catonsville High school has the Comet Culture Program where seniors trained as Comet Culture Leaders come into all classes to lead discussions with younger students. Catonsville just won an award from Stevenson University for the program.

Let’s all look for ways to make the kind of difference Mr. Wiseman did. If you have any similar experiences please send your stories our way!