T-shirt story a reminder about creativity

Originally published in the Knoxville News-SentinelSeptember 22, 2019

Like so many others across the state, I was shocked and disappointed when I heard that a young Florida student was recently bullied by his classmates. The reason? He drew a University of Tennessee logo and attached it to his orange shirt for his school’s “College Colors Day.” This incident, which has since gone viral on social media, has reminded me that as a teacher, I have a special responsibility to ensure that my students feel safe to share their creativity – both inside and outside the classroom.

I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to teach science at the Tennessee Virtual Academy. Many of my students come to my class believing that science is something only a few lucky people are good at. But throughout the school year, I remind them that science isn’t just some abstract concept. Science is a primary part of their daily lives.

So whether we’re discussing cells or photosynthesis, ecosystems or conservation, I help them make connections to the things they do every day. This helps them understand that the classroom is a place where they can be innovative and creative. I remind them that they’re free to ask as many questions as they want. As future leaders, they need to know that everyone’s ideas and contributions are valuable.

Stephanie Nelson, Cookeville

To learn more about Tennessee Virtual Academy, visit https://tnva.k12.com/

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