Posted by: joshjasper | July 23, 2009

Joy and Pain

The Maquoketa Valley school board didn’t even see her coming.  And how could they have?  For more than 3 years students had been reporting to school administrators that teachers were having inappropriate relationships with students.  These reports were seemingly falling on deaf ears.  A female Spanish teacher was sitting in the laps of students, duct taping their mouths shut, and showing sexually explicit material in the classroom that was produced by students.  A male teacher was having an affair with a student.  Students felt unsafe, parents were angry, but yet nothing was being done.  This was all about to change.

Then one of those parents made a call to the Riverview Center.  Once that call was received, things were never going to be same again for that school.

Joy took the first call, then the second, the third, and many more from parents, students, and administrators reaching out for support and guidance.  Joy is Riverview Center’s prevention educator and legal/medical advocate for Delaware and Buchanan Counties.  More specifically, Joy is someone that when called upon for help, will stop at nothing to assist.

As I stood in the back of the room of the school board meeting tonight watching the members of the board nervously stumble through their bylaws looking for a way to limit what was about to be reported, I knew this community was now in good hands.  Joy was ready to present to the community a plan to put the school back on track; back to a place where students were safe.

The first speaker was a parent of a student that shared an emotionally charged statement written by his daughter.  She detailed the harassment and emotional abuse she endured for years while attending the high school.  The following speaker was a current student that could hardly make out the words of her harrowing tale of pain that she felt in school.  She sobbed as she told of a teacher calling her “stupid and ignorant,” and belittling her in front of her peers.

It was now Joy’s turn.  After hugging the young girl that shared, it was Joy who took the floor to be the voice for so many that had been wronged by this school.  It would have been easy for Joy to come from a place of being angry or to illustrate the many things that went wrong.  But instead, Joy came from a place of hope.  She knew that although being discouraged by what had taken place, if progress were to be made, she would need to focus on the solution.

While Joy spoke of what she was prepared to offer the school to change their culture, I watched the parents, students, and other community members in the audience  fill with confidence, realizing that change was in the air, and that better days were on the horizon.  I also saw the young girl that shared her story sit up straight, push her hair away from her eyes, and crack a smile.  Her smile was all I needed to see to know that something special took place tonight.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Joy is an amazing person who will do what it takes to make our community safer. Bravo Joy and to those who had the courage to come forward and break the silence!

  2. It was truly amazing to behold. Joy is a tenacious advocate for her clients, and that community is very lucky to have such a fierce champion for victim’s rights. Bravo to those parents, students, and teachers who had the courage to speak out.

  3. Joy has been given the nickname Sparkle~ It is no wonder why after reading such a moving discription of her work and passion in the community! You go girl!


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