Schools, Let’s Talk about Sext

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Publisher's Note:Tyler Pickle is a DeKalb High graduate currently attending Texas A&M. He is  a video journalist for 12th Man Productions, the middle man between the athletic department and ESPN, specializing in softball. Pickle is a Sport Management major with a double minor in journalism and communications. He has previously written for Odyssey, the largest website with articles written exclusively by students. 

By Tyler Pickle
Special to the Tribune

The fourth, and final, section in this four-part series is undoubtedly different from the first three – this time I’m talking to our teachers and administrators.
When I think back on my time in Bowie County and what made it so special, the thing that blows me away the most is the way that the community is so closely intertwined with the school system. 
Being away from Small Town, East Texas and learning about how other people grew up, I have realized that this is definitely not the norm. With this, however, comes a responsibility for our teachers, coaches, and administrators that employees at big schools simply don’t have.
When it comes to the subject of sexting, the school is undoubtedly involved.
In the hallways, locker rooms, and classrooms are where kids talk. You can say
“it’s none of the school’s business”, but so much of it happens at school, that the school has to be involved.
As a school, you have to ask yourself: what is your goal? If your goal is simply to teach kids how to pass one test in April, then keep doing what you’re doing. However, I expect more. Speaking solely from personal experience, I couldn’t find a derivative or tell you the chemical makeup of a random mineral today to save my life. However, I could tell you lessons that teachers like Lori Shelton and Donna Hunt taught me about life all day long. 
You see, what sticks with a student 5, 10, or 20 years down the road is not what’s in the textbook; it’s the things you talk to them about when there’s five minutes until the bell and your lesson is over. As a school, your goal should be for every student to walk across the stage a better person than they were when they walked into their first class. If you’re not producing valuable citizens for the community, what are you doing?
As far as this particular topic goes, you should encourage your students to do better. I am not saying to judge the students that struggle with this issue, or even to “discipline” them. Discipline is not what this is about. As a school, your role in this and your responsibility is to be there for your students. For many students in our communities, their coaches, teachers, and band directors are some of their most critical influencers. From the point of view of someone that was an athlete year round in school, I was with my coaches more than my own parents. What that means is that you are important, far beyond the grade on a report card or a win-loss record. If you see the need, and I can almost guarantee you there is one, have a conversation with your students about this difficult subject – believe me, they will listen more than you think. What you tell them may be the only advice they hear on the subject. If you do not take advantage of the opportunity you’re given to change a kid’s life, you should probably rethink your career choice. Make a difference.
I don’t want to say that we have a “problem” in our school system when it comes to building character and lifelong values, because I think our local schools do a great job of this! 
However, there is always room for improvement. I believe we can do better. If you think of yourself as a teacher that does make a difference, I challenge you to take it up another notch. For this 2017-2018 school year, I want you to care and love for your group of students more than you ever have a group before. Make a conscious effort to care more. Likewise, if you are a teacher who has only ever worried about teaching material, regardless of reason, I challenge you to put yourself out there and be the teacher that a kid looks back on and says, “that person changed my life”. 
I full heartedly believe that if our teachers care and love for our students to the best of their abilities like they are all capable of, that a lot of these problems, including this sexting epidemic, will fix their selves. 
Give that girl more confidence in who she is. Show that boy how to be a man. If we improve character, we correct issues.
As I wrap up this series, I want to personally thank you for reading. 
This problem that has swept our county is not insurmountable; it is a chance to come together as a community and create a better future. I am going to be the first one to say, I do not expect anyone to agree with everything I have written over the last month. My job is not to write what you want to hear. As a journalist, my job is to create conversation. 
If you don’t do anything else, I want you to talk about this series, rather you think it was excellent or a waste of paper. When people talk, people create opinions. 
When people create opinions, people begin to care. When people begin to care, change happens. 
Bowie County, we need change.

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