To the Editor:
As you prepare your children for the upcoming school year, some of you have serious doubts about whether the teachers in Bayonne are prepared to guide your children in the right direction. Some of you may feel Bayonne teachers are overworked, under paid, and perhaps just don’t care. I want to share a story with you that I will hope eliminate any fears you may have. Picture it, Bayonne High School, Fall of 1985; A scared and frustrated sophomore returning to school after a very hard and socially awkward freshman year. This young man, who otherwise was a pretty good student, struggled with his grades, made very few friends, and was bullied and tormented beyond belief. The previous year saw this gentle young man beaten up, called names, and made a brunt of very distasteful jokes. He left his freshman year defeated and so overwhelmed with emotion that he had made a drastic decision and devised a plan that would guide the rest of his life. Being ever the optimist, he promised to give it one more try and return to Bayonne High School. If after the first two weeks things continued as they had the year before, he would go ahead with his plan.
The first two days were disastrous! The bullies seemed to gain momentum over the summer and saved it all for him. The atrocious name calling, the threats of physical abuse and even worse, rumors that would follow him for the rest of his high school life plagued his first few days. Why didn’t he tell anyone what was going on you ask? He tried t hat last year and someone found out he snitched and it only got worse. Wednesday, September 18, 1985 was the day that would forever change his life. That morning during homeroom his guidance counselor came to see him and advised him that one of his classes was changing. The reason was that there were too many students in his current class so by alphabetical order he was moved to a different class. He was now supposed to report to room 233. His guidance counselor, sensing the fear in his eyes, calmed him by saying that he thought this scared, frustrated and exhausted young man will be delighted with his new teacher. Boy was than an understatement!
Unfortunately, he was in her class only for two weeks, (he was moved to another class, again, because of size), but those two weeks were the greatest of his high school career. The extraordinary teacher in that English class, in only two short weeks, restored his faith in the school system, helped him build his self confidence, and gave him one very important piece of advice: “People will eventually see what I see in you, a creative, loving, gentle person whose humor and charm will enhance their lives. Be yourself, a nonconformist, and you will succeed.” From that moment on, he confronted the bullying with a sense of laughter and he never let anything get him down and eventually built a circle of friends that would last a lifetime. He went home that day after school, took the gun out from under his bed, retrieved the suicide note form the closet and disposed of them both where no one would ever find them. Bayonne teachers care! Give them a chance to do what they do best and perhaps someday your child may be able to say thank you to a teacher for changing his or her life. For me, every chance I get I like to say thank you, Donna Hurley-Zervoulis and Christina McLaughlin-Arszulowicz!
So, yes, Bayonne teachers may be overworked, and yes, they are certainly underpaid, but regardless of their daily obstacles they care tremendously about children. Bayonne teachers rock!
BHS Class of 1988