Back to School

It’s that time of year again! Children as well as parents all over the state are preparing to go back to school. This means that teachers like me have been getting classrooms and lesson plans ready to educate young minds. I have put in many hours of contracted time along with my own personal time to make sure I am ready to be the best teacher for my students that I can be.
What does any of this have to do with pole you wonder? Well I will gladly share! At the beginning of each school year our staff takes a whole school staff picture. This year the picture was taken in the high school gym. I made the decision to sit next to a high school colleague I hadn’t had a chance to reconnect with since teacher in-service began.
After the completion of the picture, she began to tell that she bumped into a parent at her child’s school who had asked if she and I worked together. It took her a moment to put first name to last name as at school I am Miss Hegner, not Janelle. My coworker delightfully replied that, “Yes, she did work with me and I was a wonderful teacher!” Yay kuddos to me! But…… Here is where the crappy part comes in……
The parent said, “Did you know she hangs from stripper poles?!” My coworker knows I do aerial and was taken aback at the parent’s comment. This parent didn’t even know me as a person, but still felt comfortable to cast judgement of who I was as a person based on my sport. My coworker kindly defended my aerial passion to this random parent.  After she told me about the incident, her first instinct was to tell me to check my Facebook privacy settings.

Privacy Settings

I kindly told her that my settings were very private, unless I posted a pole/aerial picture as my profile picture. At the time, my profile picture was of me in a layback. I proceeded to ask my coworker how this random parent knew who I was. She informed me that another parent at school, is either friends with me on Facebook or is friends of a friend who is and saw my picture. That parent also informed my coworker she didn’t think it was right that I was teaching when I do something so inappropriate.
As a teacher and an aerialist, I know the stereotypes and biases that come with our sports. People are constantly too quick to judge and degrade. If the wrong parent comes across my passion for aerial I could lose my job, but I will not lose it without a fight. Last year my third grade class had to do their end of the year physical test in gym class. How many push ups, sit ups, pull ups, etc can you do…. That day, I went with my class to gym. I showed them that I, as a woman, am a strong individual not only mentally, but physically. I went first in the activities showing them that if I can do it they can to. Providing many with encouragement and faith in themselves.
My goal was not to show off or earn praise. It was to inspire my students that hard work and determination pays off in physical challenges as well as academic. If you were to ask the Janelle I was four years ago to do a push up I would have laughed in your face. The person I was four years ago was not confident in any of my abilities and lived in fear of failure. That way of life is not what I want for the young people in our world.

What I Want For My Students

What I want for my students is to be comfortable taking risks and accepting challenges. Most of all I want them to be able to love who they are in their own skin. That parent who judged me for doing pole, was not judging me for my choices, but their own insecurities. I do not want that for the young minds I educate. They are young and full of opened mindedness. I may not be able to change what their parents think or feel, but I can influence my students to continue to be accepting of others before casting judgement.
This world already has enough negativity without parents sharing there biased small minded opinions with their children in hopes to continue those small minded practices. I wish I could have encountered that parent so I could have personally invited them to the Aerial Dance Open House this week. Maybe then I would have been able to shed a little light in the small world they have themselves trapped in. Ladies continue to find your strength and believe in your beauty. No one deserves to be able to take that from you!

Until Next Time,