Monday, February 24, 2020

#ChooseKindTuesday: Jenna Visits Massachusetts School

By Jenna Ottow and Kara Jackman 

Jenna Ottow visited Dexter Southfield School in Brookline, MA to share her #ChooseKind story to all 4th grade classes. She talked about the surgeries, school experiences, and the positives and negatives of growing up with a facial difference. Dexter Southfield's motto, 'Our Best Today, Better Tomorrow' was quite apparent in the audience of 40 students that listened attentively in the small auditorium  In preperation for their 'Diversity Day', the students had been were reading stories demonstrating diversity and the ability to overcome it. Students shaed how the book “Wonder" stood out the most because they could relate to Auggie and his fellow students as they were also in school. Jenna shared how being different taught her to overcome shunning, lonliness, and bullies, like Julian, the bully depicted in R.J. Palacio’s New York-Best selling book.
Photo Credit: Dexter Southfield School

The students were encouraged to ask questions about bullying, staring, and a life that involved a few extra hospital visits than most. Jenna was touched when students asked questions in order to relate to Jenna, and find commonalities between the students and her, and eachother. One wise student asked, “did you ever let the bullies get inside your head?” which is a pretty profound question for anyone to ask, never mind an elementary school student. Not expecting this, Jenna paused and admitted that although it's not necessarily easy, she did allow that to happen, and went on to say that those words from bullies as a youngster, still haunt Jenna today. Jenna explained that by taking the negative and turned it into a positive by using the hurtful words, shunning, and stares, to turn them into confidence and knowledge knowing that their bullying is more about them and less about whoever it is that they choose to bully.

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