The Value of Children: Reflections of an Elementary School Substitute

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When I’m not writing, I work as a substitute at my kids’ elementary school. Often, on the days that I sub, I spend some time in the evening recording the day’s thoughts and events in my journal. I wanted to share part of an entry I wrote back in February after wrapping up a two day stint with a 2nd grade class.

I’m a bit tired and I don’t want to spend all night thinking about the past two days, but I will say one last thing. It’s amazing how quickly (in just two days), you can start building a rapport with these kids. Heck, even in the course of one school day. But especially after two, you start getting to really know them, see their quirks and personalities, and their needs, and you start to really care about these little humans you knew nothing about a couple of days previously.

And it’s also quite amazing, when you see how vibrant and what complete little people these kids are, with all of their lives and interests and dramas just as real and important as your own, to think of just how amazing the world is!

Each little life adds a whole other color to the incredible mosaic of humankind all over the world and all across time. I almost feel like each little person is a beautiful, multifaceted jewel–completely unlike any other–and that all the universe itself is a million times richer and more blessed by each one.

And then, as you realize the value and potential in each one of these little humans, you understand just how important it is to ensure they grow up in a safe and loving and secure environment, where their dignity is affirmed.

So, I thank you God, for the chance, the opportunity, the blessing, to get to spend a day here and there with all of these little souls just brimming with potential. May you help all of us who interact with kids do our best for them. 

February 3, 2022


When I saw the news from Uvalde yesterday, my heart broke in a way it never had before. Sandy Hook happened when I was pregnant with my oldest son. It shook me up. But this, nearly 10 years later…now my kids are in elementary school, as old as yesterday’s victims. And now that I’ve been in the school and have made connections with many of the kids and teachers, I couldn’t get their faces out of my head, worried that something like this could happen to them.

We have to do better. We have to put every political opinion and preconceived notion aside and meet together at a table with a blank slate. We need to weigh every option in how to address school shootings, examine the problem from every angle, propose solutions and see if they hold up to scrutiny.

My children, the children at our school and every other school, and all the teachers and staff, deserve more than to have this swept under the table and forgotten about in a week. If we truly believe in the dignity of human life, we need to offer more than thoughts and prayers. We need to offer our actions and to work in good faith with those from every part of the political spectrum to come up with the best possible solution, whatever that may be, to keep our schools safe.

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