A video posted on YouTube last week by a Lindsay Place High School teacher is gaining a growing audience and collecting critical praise.
Described as “inspirational” and “effective,” the four-minute production by Grade 11 teacher Catherine Hogan contains a message for teenagers: Teachers care. They know what you are going through because they have been there. And they are ready to listen and help.
The message — and the method Hogan has chosen to express it — have hit a chord with her students at Lindsay Place and, with the help of social media, a fast-growing number of students at other high schools.
In just over a week, the video has more than 20,800 views. And it has propelled Hogan into the media spotlight. She has been doing one interview after the other in the past week.
“It’s crazy,” she said last Friday.
The idea to do the video came together last fall. In the wake of the much-publicized suicide of Amanda Todd, a Grade 10 teen in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Amanda’s story made national headlines after a video she posted online outlined how she was bullied, blackmailed and abused. The video went viral after her death.
As a teacher, Hogan wondered why someone like Amanda would not turn to a teacher for help.
“Why don’t they talk to their teachers?” she asked herself.
Hogan started surfing the Internet and watching videos posted by teens from across North America. She soon noticed reoccurring themes: “Nobody cares about me. Nobody understands.”
“My reaction to this is I would listen,” Hogan explained in an interview, expressing frustration. But then she admitted: “Kids just don’t realize we would understand.”
So she wanted to reach out, make a connection to convince whoever she could that teachers were once students. They do understand what teenagers are going through and they can share the benefit of their experience.
So she started writing.
Set to a remake of Cyndi Lauper’s hit song True Colors, the video opens with a quote from an unknown author: “Children won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”
The video shows Hogan sitting behind a desk. Without uttering a word, she flips through a series of white 8-by-10 sheets of paper she uses as cue cards. The cards contain the text of her message, a touching and personal story of what she went through as a teenager in high school. The story includes the revelations of how she was devastated by her parents’ divorce, how a boyfriend broke her heart and, not knowing how to handle it all, she developed an eating disorder that put her in the hospital for four months.
“So, if you think no one understands what you’re feeling …” she says on one of the sheets she holds up to the camera, “please know,” she adds with the flip of another sheet. “I do.”
Shot with the help of Aline Rolland, a former student of Hogan’s who was a student-teacher at Lindsay Place last fall, the video was completed in December. But Hogan was reluctant to post it online.
“I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to put that out there,” Hogan admitted, referring to the admission she had suffered from an eating disorder. “I wasn’t sure I wanted my colleagues to know.”
But after sitting on it for five weeks, Rolland showed the video to her mother and a friend. Based on their reactions, she was able to convince Hogan to post it on YouTube with a link on Rolland’s Facebook page. That was on the morning of Jan. 22. That evening, Hogan had received more than 160 messages on Facebook.
Students, former students, students from other schools, like Westwood Senior in Hudson, reacted.
Last Wednesday morning, the video had been seen by 2,000 people. By last Friday, the number was just under 10,000. By Monday evening, the number of views had jumped to 19,625.
“My hat goes off to you Ms. Hogan for putting yourself out there for your students. I hope this message gets heard worldwide,” reads one comment posted by a viewer.
“Excellent video. Powerful message. Thank you Ms. Hogan and the wonderful teachers at LPHS for what you are doing. Keep making a difference,” wrote another viewer.
And then early on Monday morning this message was posted in response to Hogan’s video by Carol Todd: “From one teacher/parent to others … thank you!!! – from Amanda Todd’s mom.”
Transcript of Hogan’s video message:
“Children won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”
High school can be a rough time.
I know. I’ve been there.
Sometimes you might think to yourself,
“Why would my teachers understand what I’m going through?”
But let me tell you
Lots of us have been through the very same things you are going through right now.
I’ll tell you a story …
When I was in grade 11 my parents got divorced
and it devastated me.
I was so embarrassed that I tried to hide it from all my friends.
That same year, my boyfriend of almost 2 years, and the one person I thought I could count on, broke up with me
and at the time, it was the worst pain I’d ever felt.
I didn’t know how to deal with all of it. And I ended up developing an eating disorder and spending 4 months in the hospital.
So, if you think no one understands what you’re feeling …
When you feel like you can’t talk to anyone
Or no one will understand,
there is always a teacher out there
who understands and will listen.
Because we’ve been where you are now. And we’ve felt how you are feeling too.
But now that we’re older we’ve learned lots of ways to deal with some of the things you’re going through, so we can really help.
We chose to be teachers because we care about you.
If others don’t accept you for who you are …
If your parents argue
Or your heart got broken
Or you are sad, or confused or feel different from everyone else,
Or you are going through something you don’t know how to deal with,
We will listen
We will support you.
And we will care … because we are teachers.
In my 2nd year of teaching high school, one of my students committed suicide
And I never
Ever want that to happen again.
You are not alone in your struggle.
We are right here with you.
YOU are why we became teachers.