She was new, one of only nine second-grade girls in a class of twenty-five, and the first month of school had been brutal. Hearing “You can’t sit by me!” “Don’t follow us on the playground!” and “Go away!” finally caught up with the girl who tearfully balked at going to school one morning. After she did go, her mother emailed the teacher her concerns.
“Mommy!!! This was a GREAT DAY!!!” shrieked the girl when her mother picked her up that afternoon. She shared how her teacher had hosted a “Girls Date” over lunch, with chairs organized around one big “family” table. She reported the conversation to her mom: “OK, ladies!” said the teacher. “We need to talk. There are only nine girls in this class, so we need to stick together and take care of each other!”
When the teacher asked if anyone wanted to share anything, the girl found the courage to tell the others how left out and hurt she felt when they said mean things to her. The girls apologized and said they didn’t mean to be hurtful — they didn’t know her and wanted to play with their best friends.
The teacher responded, “Girls, this young lady is brand new here from another state. When you tell her to go away, where on earth is she supposed to go? She doesn’t know anyone here. She doesn’t have friends from last year she can play with. YOU are her new family. YOU are her new friends!” She then encouraged them to imagine themselves as a new kid in a new town and asked how they would feel if someone told them to go away or that they couldn’t play.
The mom, also a teacher, shared this true story and related that when she heard the “Girls Date” development from her daughter, and then confirmed it later that day with her teacher, she wanted to “run into the building and lift that teacher on my shoulders and parade her around this town like a hero … because that is just what she is.”