‘I survived, so can you’

Fulton Middle School staff share stories to help students, invite community to do the same

Barb Barkho, math teacher at Fulton Middle School, describes her experience as an adolescent in an effort to relate to students.

Barb Barkho, math teacher at Fulton Middle School, describes her experience as an adolescent in an effort to relate to students.

Science teacher Lucy Shrout was teased about her looks, counselor Michelle Lackey had to deal with her parents’ divorce, principal Chris Crane attended five different schools between fifth and ninth grades, for math teacher Barb Barkho it was a refuge from home.

Fulton Middle School staff have been sharing their own middle school experiences via video as part of “I Survived Middle School, and You Can Too,” a project intended to help find common ground with their students.

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Contributed

Fulton Middle School science teacher Lucy Shrout’s eighth grade photo.

Shrout said she got the inspiration for the project when another teacher had parents make similar videos. The idea of sharing what middle school was like for her struck an immediate chord, and she set about making a video of her own to share with her students.

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Fulton Middle School counselor Michelle Lackey was among the school’s staff who posted a video about her experience as a student.

“I thought to put myself on their level, I just happen to have my eighth grade photo, and I thought by showing them this was me in middle school, it would show them we all have our own stories, that we’ve all been there,” Shrout said. “The kids need to know we’re here for them.”

In the video, Shrout shows a photo of herself in middle school and talks about how she was “made fun of a lot” for wearing “grandma glasses,” braces and her weight.

“I didn’t know how to deal with people making fun of me,” Shrout said in the video, before assuring her students, “but I got through it. You can get through middle school — this is just one part of your life.”

Sharing her story made an immediate impact.

“I’ve actually had students write on papers, ‘So-and-so is picking on me.’ I’ve seen students opening up to me much more,” Shrout said.

Soon she had other staff members sharing their own stories.

“We’ve got things like divorce, friends no liking each other, moving — hopefully it’s helping kids that are experiencing these things,” Shrout said.

Fellow science teacher Linda Baysinger shared about losing her older brother to illness when she was in eighth grade. She said it going to school was uncomfortable because nobody knew what to say to her — and she didn’t know what to say to them. Baysinger said she was miserable until her junior high principal called her into his office and said “Hey, I’m here if you want to talk. I have a box box of Kleenexes that you can use.”

“If you’re the student who has lost somebody you love … there will be times you need to talk, so find somebody to talk to, and remember, I have a great big box of Kleenexes in my classroom, too,” Baysinger said in the video.

She said Wednesday she decided to make a video “to let the kids know what they’re going through is normal.”

Area residents are invited to send video accounts of their middle school experiences to fultonmiddle@fulton58.org. To see the videos already posted, see the middle school page or the Fulton Public Schools youtube page.

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