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Finding & honoring teachers on Facebook

We see so much coverage of social Web abuse that it was a nice surprise to see a story about what it’s great at: finding long-lost friends, relatives, classmates … and teachers! The New York Times tells of how people out of school 20+ years use Facebook to find their favorite high school teachers and thank them: “At a time when public school teachers are being blamed for everything from poor test scores to budget crises, Facebook is one place where they are receiving adulation, albeit delayed…. People who are 20, 30 or 40 years beyond graduation are using Facebook to re-establish relationships with teachers and express gratitude and overdue respect.” According to the Times, “in the weeks before the death last month of Jerry Sheik, a retired band teacher from Intermediate School 70 in Chelsea, his wife, Judith Kalina, said he was overwhelmed by the praise written on a Facebook page created [by “Sheik’s Freaks”] in his honor.” One of the Freaks wrote that Mr. Sheik was the person who first put a saxophone in his hands. That student went on to become a professional musician who toured with Dizzy Gillespie. And one 60-something history teacher told the Times he didn’t know what Facebook was until one of his former students told him about the 455-member FB fan page created in his name. I should try to find my amazing senior-year English teacher, Ms. Burwanger, on Facebook. She had us reading everything from Sophocles to Shakespeare sonnets. She loved it all, and that was contagious. [See also SafeKids.com’s Larry Magid on “the other side of the Facebook privacy issue” at the San Jose Mercury News.]

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