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[Weekly Inspiration] An Elementary School Teacher Finds Inspiration in Tragedy

[Weekly Inspiration] An Elementary School Teacher Finds Inspiration in Tragedy

The recent helicopter crash that took Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other people from us has touched a lot of people around the world. On the Monday after the tragedy, Michael Bonner could clearly see that it was weighing heavily on the minds of his fourth and sixth grade students at Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. And from that tragedy, an idea was born.

"You could see it in their eyes and children don’t really know how to communicate hurt and pain in the clearest of ways,” he told Good Morning America, “so I thought, let’s reverse engineer it.”

Bonner tasked his students with reading and taking notes on Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” poem, which he published in 2015 after retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers. That poem went on to become an Oscar-winning short film. They took their time, delving into the message behind the poem, Kobe’s legacy, and the way that his death made them feel.

"The first thing I told them was that it's okay to be sad, that adults in the building are sad, but how can we take those feelings and convert them into something positive, into something that will keep pushing us forward."

From there, they wrote down their worst fears on a piece of paper, balled that paper up, and one-by-one, tossed it in the trash. And as they took their shot, they each did what many kids have been doing for years when making a shot with a basketball: they yelled, “Kobe!”

“The idea of throwing their fears away, they really connected with it," Bonner said. "We all have struggles and fears but if we can push them aside and move forward, which is the 'Mamba mentality,' then we can make progress. That is what education is about, giving them some type of experience to make sure they can take it with them for the rest of their lives.”

Check out the full story from Good Morning America and think about how your students can find inspiration in tragedy.

Chris.Gruhlke's picture

Chris Gruhlke is a published author with a broad writing background covering a variety of topics, including politics, education, public safety, and technology. In 2018, he joined Edmentum as a Bid Operations Writer, where he helps to bring Edmentum’s transformational solutions to school districts across the United States.