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Back To The Books


It’s here again.

This topic it starting to feel a bit redundant, yet here it is again … Back to school time.

For those just picking up the paper and landing on this page on a Saturday, not to worry, your babies didn’t miss the first day; that happens on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Yes, it’s August … already. That in and of itself has me pondering a bit, I just got used to saying July.

Funny how time flies, things change and we can feel as if we’re living a scene from the hit Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day all at once.

To this point, as the local schools reporter, it feels as if I’ve barely lost touch with administrators and teachers during the past few months. As students and their families have been soaking up the moments of summer, work at the district office, as well as on school sites has continued. The notion that educators work ‘just’ nine months a year quite simply is both naïve and inaccurate.

Many of my friends, who happen to be educators, began planning out their classrooms and coming school year, a week or two after packing up the previous year. Some might say the educator is a funny breed. Others, especially educators, might not debate that. After all it does indeed take a special breed of people to dedicate your life to educating and enriching a classroom of 20-plus strangers, ranging in grade level and or age year after year.

Our district students are lucky, we happen to have campuses filled with educators who are passionate about what they do and that transcends to the student. Oh sure, I won’t debate, nor dispute that there are a handful whom are tired and no longer fueled by passion. That may be said for any profession.

I relate with these educators, as I listen to them get excited speaking about the coming year. I understand, because I too happen to be passionate about what I do.

Just as there are teachers that are burnt out, I have little doubt that there are reporters and or journalists in the same boat.

During our slight and ever brief ‘downtime,’ I was fortunate enough to have time to read “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” authored by Angela Duckworth, released earlier this year. It was dropped off for me by OJUSD Superintendent Marc Malone, with a simple note of thanks.

I was familiar with Duckworth and her study, most especially through her vastly popular Ted Talk regarding the topic of Grit. In truthfulness, prior to hearing her speak I saw Grit as a Buzzword. A word which people used to sum up and/or dramatize how they felt about an individual.

Once I opened this book, I took it with me everywhere hoping for a moment to crack a page or complete a chapter. Chances are, if you crossed my path during the week in which it took me to read it, you already know how affected I was by Duckworth’s research and findings.

To describe Duckworth as accomplished is an understatement. For her book, however, she did not rest on the laurels of her reputation. She applied the exact formula and tenacity from which she founded the book, Grit.

The psychologist and recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship honor shares stories of students and individuals overcoming obstacles and opposition, not because of talent, but rather because of passion and perseverance.

Talent she demonstrates is often not only misunderstood, but mislabeled. A swimmer who spends countless hours multiple days a week training and earns top honors in their stroke or event, does not do this simply due to talent, it’s achieved because of Grit.

Fall down seven, get up eight is perhaps the most succinct take away from the wonderful book that sheds light on so much for us as parents, educators and humans. It is when we pursue greatness, despite what’s put in front of us that we grow and change.

So what does all this mean? Dear goodness Teresa (you might be saying), We’ve gone from ‘Back to School’ to a book you loved? Where’s the point?

The point I guess is simple and perhaps muted through all my words.

As we each head back to school, looking to our children to do their best, as we each learn to grow … Be passionate about your children. No. Not just be passionate about your children; be passionate about children … period. Your child’s best friend, a child you see on campus or in the hall of their school. Make a positive impact on every student’s life you come across. Yours may be the only hello, how are you or wave they see that day and those simple gestures may prompt them to persevere.

Day at a time, one foot in front of another, greatness is upon us. The question is will you choose to be a contributor? My vote … absolutely. I’ll be looking for ya in the greatness pool. Now, be safe and happy 2016-17.


Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.