By Lori Lyn Lirio
“WELL-balanced teachers lead to well-balanced students.”
Thus said Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Superior Court Associate Judge Teresa Kim Tenorio during the recent CNMI Public School System’s kickoff rally for the school year 2018-19 at the Marianas High School Gym.
“Practice self care. I can’t stress enough the importance of it, especially as educators,” Tenorio, as the event’s keynote speaker, advised the teachers to practice self care.
Being a teacher, the judge said, is one of the hardest jobs because they are dealing with kids. The lady magistrate also recognized the big role being played by the teachers in the lives of the students.
“You have a room full of kids and are required to teach one subject to different students at different learning levels, which means that you tailor that subject to each student’s level. You deal with their issues at home when necessary. You mediate fights between classmates. You have to keep up with their generational culture and so much more.”
Once again, she told the teachers to “step back, breath and take care of yourself.”
She said teachers probably suffer a lot of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
“I was at a training for judges and one of the topics discussed was PTSD. We all know PTSD, but I had never heard it described the way the presenter described it. He said PTSD is the result of a person observing a traumatic situation… observing the traumatic situation and not being able to do anything about it. Feeling helpless!” she said.
Teachers, according to the judge, see some students not focusing on studies, or constantly get in trouble because they are either being bullied at school or abused at home.
“These are just a couple examples of many other traumas you experience as teachers. So please practice self care.”
In dealing with children, the courts and the PSS have parallel partnerships. She said there are some students who face struggles and come in contact with the courts for either child custody, battles, neglect, abuse, divorce, wardships and others issues.
“I do what I do and you do what you do. In the end, it complements, intersects, and hopefully it is what works best for the student. I make decisions on how a family will function. You guide and support that student,” said the judge, who admitted that she was agonizing when she make decisions affecting children.
In every case, she looked at every angle and appreciated the reports, testimonies, arguments she received. Her decision is guided by the law and the standard of what is in the best interest of the child.
The mutual support of educators and the court, according to the judge, would make a difference in the student’s life.