Thursday, August 12, 2010

Everybody Needs A Rock: The Story of Karon and the Thunder Egg

I love Byrd Baylor. Her books like I'm In Charge of Celebrations, The Way To Start a Day, The Other Way To Listen, The Table Where Rich People Sit...have certainly all been on my "teaching/read aloud must have list" for years, but only until this year did I understand why I needed Everybody Needs a Rock.

I learned why Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor was special because of my friend Karon.
Karon was my across the hall, amazing science teaching colleague last year at Hewitt Trussville Middle School.
We became fast friends standing in the hall between classes, thinking and learning together in team meetings, and spending time in each other's rooms either reflecting on the day or talking about our lives outside school.

Karon is an amazing teacher, wife, and mom to two incredible three year old boys (Emerson, adopted from Kazakhstan and Issac, the most recent, very lucky, miracle baby from China).
She's a passionate advocate for taking care of our Earth and the children of our world.
(and she LOVES being outdoors.....VERY unlike me.)
I do not like the Alabama heat and humidity or bug bites or dirt or grass that itches my skin. And I never understood the purpose of rocks. I didn't need a rock. I didn't understand why "everybody needs a rock".
Until one day I faced something that all of you have probably experienced at one time or another in your teaching career.

I accidentally overheard a conversation about myself. And it wasn't a nice one. It hurt. It made me sad and it made me question my teaching practice. I'm sure you know that being courageous and doing what's right for kids isn't always popular and comes often with ridicule and gossip. Even though I knew that, it didn't make those words others were speaking any easier to hear.

The next day Karon shows up at my door with a "present". She asked me to close my eyes and open my hands. Below is a picture of the "Thunder Egg", the ROCK she placed in my palm.

Karon said to me, "The rock is ugly and brown and crusty and rough. A lot like the day you had yesterday. It was hard to hear those ugly, rough words. We have colleagues, and even a student now and then, that seem ugly and hard and crusty and rough, but what's important is that we stand strong and look beyond the ugliness."

Then, Karon turned the rock that had been cut in half over in my hand, and below is the picture of what I saw.

I learned from Karon that day that we must look past the ugliness to the beauty that's hidden inside people. No matter how difficult it may seem, we must trust ourselves to get through that "crusty ugliness". There are colleagues out there that need us to be an example, a mentor, a friend. There are students out there who are aching for us to find that beauty, that talent that's hidden deep inside them. There is so much good inside the halls of our schools and inside the four walls of our classrooms if we will only wait patiently and look closely enough to find it.
Thank you, Byrd Baylor. Thank you, Karon Decker.
Yes, EVERYBODY needs a rock.

To the possibilities of this brand new day....


  1. Ann Marie, I couldn't wait to get home tonight to hear your connected story about your next picture book. While I am sorry that you had to overhear something not nice, what a blessing this friend is!! I will always remember this story. Thanks for being so candid and sharing it with us.

  2. Ann Marie, these stories are beautiful and touching. Everyone does need a rock. Isn't it nice to have colleagues that hold us up, walk beside us, and make us stronger. Teaching is not always an easy job --- though amazingly rewarding. I love stories like this about those times when we help each other find strength.

  3. Learning, teaching, leading and living would be really tough without those people who seem to be always just behind us ready to catch us if we fall or give us those words of encouragement.

    You are very lucky!

  4. I heard you tell this story at a conference and the whole room cried with you. Again today this touching story brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing again.

  5. Beautiful. You're two-for-two with the tears. What will today's story bring?

  6. One of my favorite books of all time... and now I have this little story to tuck inside the cover! Thanks for sharing it. Today is the perfect day to read your piece, right before our first PLC day!

  7. I needed to read this today. Thank you.

  8. What a wonderful story! Karon, I am so proud of you! Love,

  9. Wow! I so needed to be reminded about this. It is hard to see the beauty when you are in the midst of it all and the words keep playing back and resounding in your mind. It is so hard to see the beauty in those who choose to make you feel bad. Yes, everybody needs a rock!


  10. Thank you for sharing this story. It hit home and reminds me about how important it is to have supportive people in our lives who help to keep us focused on the positive in spite of the ugliness. Welcome back to the blogging world. I am looking forward to reading more.