Saturday, May 14, 2011

Nobody Don't Love Nobody

I find a lot of the books I read from my rabbit-trail adventures. One trail leads to another, that one leads somewhere else, and so on. Almost ad nauseum.

This book landed in my stack, actually it was another interruption of my stack, a couple of weeks ago when the new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Beyond the Blackboard, came out. I was drawn to the movie because it was about a teacher, and when the introduc
tion began saying it was based on a true story, I googled. Google is my reason for easy rabbit trails. I learned that the movie was based on the classroom experiences of Stacey Bess who had written a book, Nobody Don't Love Nobody. I ordered the book during the first commercial break.

Stacey Bess writes about her first teaching experience after graduating from college. She's some tough cookie to be so young and inexperienced and to have stuck it out in some dangerous and uncertain situations with little preparation or materials. She was definitely the diamond in the rough.

Her first school situation was uncommon. Assigned to a public school in a homeless shelter, she taught grades 1-6 concurrently. Talk about modern day one-room schoolhouse! Her students were children of homeless families who lived in a shelter in Utah. Many of these children had moved from place to place for much of their lives. Many of their parents were substance abusers who spent the little money provided on their habits rather than bread for their children. Many of the children had been emotionally neglected to the extent that they could hardly believe Stacey Bess really cared about them. She loved them as her own. She provided for them as best as she could. The children's understanding of the world around them was that "Nobody Don't Love Nobody," hence the title of the book.

While the book is a series of stories about the children which can become a bit wearisome to read, the instructional part for me learning that sometimes teaching, or encouraging, the notion of self-esteem has a place. In many classrooms today, the last thing we see needed is kids with anymore self-esteem. That shows the difference in Stacey Bess' classroom and mine. Typical kids today have no problem with self-esteem; they have plenty. Sometimes, too much. But in the Bess' classroom of the School with No Name, many of the children had little self-esteem due to their lifelong circumstances.

Stacey Bess managed to see the need early-on that this was a different sort of bunch; her given classroom was not what her educational experiences had prepared her for. She learned; she adjusted and adapted; she succeeded. She learned to teach these children first that they do have worth in the world; she taught them to love as she loved them. She continued to teach them typical classroom material, but her pr
imary lessons were much more basic and human need related.

Movie adaptations are always different from books, and this is true with Beyond the Blackboard. The movie was good but a bit dissimilar from the book Nobody Don't Love Nobody. To couple with the release of the movie, the book has been re-released under the same title, Beyond the Blackboard: Lessons on Love from the School with No Name.

Read more info on Stacey Bess here.

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