15 Minutes: Hero of Peace puts words to action
April 11, 2005
Holly Greenough is a third generation teacher in Tahoe. She teaches resources at South Tahoe Middle School and sign language at Lake Tahoe Community College. She received the Hero of Peace award from the organizers of the Season of Peace and Nonviolence.
Q: You come from a family of teachers?
A: My sister also teaches at the high school. My mother was at Bijou Elementary for 30 years, and my grandmother was the first female school counselor for the district.
Q: Did you participate in the Season or Peace and Nonviolence?
A: Part of what I agreed to do with them was to make sure that the school was participating in that. One of our club life students read the affirmations every day. Personally my goal is to make sure that students are living in that lifestyle every day.
Q: Any ideas why you won the Peace Hero award?
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A: I am the district coordinator for Challenge Day. Challenge Day is a group that breaks down the socioeconomic barriers that exist in our society and schools.
We have so many programs for kids where we tell them about drugs, bullying, and how to behave, and this is the only one out there where they go out and experience firsthand why the behavior they may be choosing is not a good choice.
This is only program that they internalize what it is to be kind, to be respectful and they learn their personal power in the world.
That’s why I got involved in this, because it’s really challenging to get that across.
Their behavior is a direct result of what they’ve lived through. And at Challenge Day, they realize they are not the only ones that have gone through bad times.
Challenge Day represents what the Coalition for Peace and Nonviolence is aiming for.
We both use quotes from Gandhi as our guiding light.
Q: What quotes?
A: The Challenge Day quote we use from Gandhi is: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Q: How did you get involved?
A: Larry Lambdin brought our first Challenge Day. And when he did it, he said, “This is you, you will love it.” And I did.
And I made a commitment to bring Challenge Day to as many youth as possible because I truly believe it effects a change.
Q: What is it about middle school students that you enjoy?
A: They are the most unique group in our society. They are forever changing, and they are incredibly passionate. And they are at a point in their life where you can support them in that passion to become or do anything that they choose to.
It’s one of the most prime times in someone’s life where influences have lasting effects.
Q: Do you ever learn anything from them?
A: Oh yes. Every minute of every day. At their age, they are not necessarily taking a straight or tainted view of the world or life or an event, and when I present material in class, and they’ll say, “Have you ever looked at it this way?” and I’ll think, “Wow, you’re right,” and it’s so cool that they are thinking like that and are outside that box.
I have conversations with my own children every day where I’m fascinated with their wisdom.
Q: You grew up here. How has Tahoe changed?
A: I think we are losing our sense of community and I think that’s sad. I think we need to figure out how to maintain an affordable lifestyle so families can afford to stay.
There are times when I think it’s a double-edged sword. Being in this small of a supportive community, people assume they know your whole life story, and can tell your history, and sometimes you feel as though you are under a microscope. But by the same token, throughout my entire life being here, if you needed support, it has always been there in this community. I think it’s still there, but I think it’s seriously dwindling.
Q: What’s the solution?
A: Affordable housing. And an economy that matches the wage.
Q: How many kids do you have?
A: Two amazing, brilliant young men. Both of my teens are on blended schedules so that they can snowboard.
Q: Any hobbies?
A: I live for dancing and riding my road bike.
Q: Do you have a personal philosophy?
A: One of my greatest concerns and one of my biggest goals in teaching is to diminish the apathy. I believe that you can create anything that you put your mind to and that no obstacle is too big.
I tell my students often that, you may have to work 100 times harder than the rest of the world, but you can still do it.