About Paula Kay Glass

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior. She has been an educator for 22 years. She founded a private elementary school in 2003 and is now working through the Moore Public School District in Moore, Oklahoma as a special education teacher. Paula is also a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and has a children's book published. Paula has three grown children and resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. You can contact her at glass foundations@sbcglobal.net or paulaglass@moorepublicschools.com.

My family and I spent New Year’s Eve together, which may not sound like much, except that my three kids are 19, 17 and 14. I know they could have gone with friends, but they chose to stay home and ring in 2014 with mom, dad and grandma. I was so excited that they made that choice. Among a nice dinner, snacks and several very competitive rounds of spoons, I had a movie planned,  Rise of the Guardians. I love this movie, and even though I know my kids are the ages they are, I want them to continually pursue the values that this movie is based on.

If you haven’t seen this movie, briefly it is about the guardians of children: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost. Each one has a value that they protect in our children. Santa Claus protects wonder, the Easter Bunny protects hope, the Sandman protects dreams, the Tooth Fairy protects memories and Jack Frost protects fun. The movie is all about believing in these values and never giving up on them; even if only one child believes, the heroes will fight for that child.

Each time I watch this movie, I can’t help but think about those kids we all currently have or have had in our classrooms that don’t have the luxury of believing in such seemingly simple ideals. You know the ones I’m talking about. The kids who trip into class late because their primary caregiver has either checked out or is working triple time to keep bills paid. The ones who haven’t seen a hairbrush let alone a toothbrush in forever. The ones who need a bath in the worst way and the older ones who have no idea that deodorant even exists. The ones who are wearing shoes either too big or too small and have only one pair of jeans that don’t see the washing machine very often. The ones who have black and blue bruises on their bodies because they “fell down”. The ones who value street smarts over school smarts, because that’s how they are able to stay alive. Neither Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Toothfairy, Sandman or Jack Frost can help them with any of these brutal facts of their lives.

A new year brings with it promises of a fresh start, a second chance, even a do-over for all of those resolutions that fell by the wayside the previous year. I personally don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but rather decide on making changes as the need arises. However when I think of all of the lives I come into contact with year in and year out, I can’t help but wonder, am I doing everything possible to light the fires of the values listed above? No matter where they are in life, all children need to believe in something. All children need to know a life of wonder and hope and dreams. All children need to know that even if their memories aren’t so good right now that they can change the course of their lives and create better memories for themselves. Childhood, and even adulthood, should have some fun in it.

We may be the only stable factor that some children come into contact with on a daily basis. We may be their only hero. Most of us are headed back to our classrooms in a few days for the final semester of the 2013-2014 school year. Even though teachers are given a platter full of material to teach on a saucer of time, I for one want to make sure I am using my influence with my kiddos wisely. I want to be that hero.
Are you using your daily influence to the best of your ability?

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