As a lifelong educator and children’s advocate, I am saddened by the thought that some children who might merely need a listening, caring person may not be given that option.

I have listened to and encouraged many children in my life, and each one returned the attention with displaying confidence and being able to feel enough confidence to pursue a happy life. When things got tough, there was a caring person who would always listen.

I ran a program at the high school during the summers. My time overlapped with the summer school schedule and there were many angry, disinterested students who were required to be at school. Being present I reached out and asked for physical help in setting up each morning, allowing an opportunity for talk.

For example, One teen latched on to my interest in his desire to play guitar. He had been having difficulty in social situations, but because we talked and I encouraged, he continued to play music and found he had friends who respected and enjoyed him for his music. The bullying he had experienced became unnoticeable and he went on to succeed in high school.

Whether the need for a listener stems from lack of self-confidence, a confusion about identity, a lack of family support, or any other reason, it is essential for each individual to feel safe and valued while trying to learn new subjects and skills.

I desperately urge our schools to offer safety and good listening ears to all who seek them.

Cyndy Tinsley, West Paris

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