Welcome to Mr. Nixon’s Words of Wisdom
Mr. Nixon taught 7th and 8th graders for thirteen years in the Churchville-Chili School District, a suburb of Rochester, NY. During that time, he wrote and delivered twice-weekly messages to the school community aimed at helping students make sense of the middle school experience. Topics included dealing with change, being a good friend, handling conflict and building self worth. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Nixon has stepped forward to bring helpful new counsel to our middle schoolers and to make available a large library of previous “Words of Wisdom.”
Dedication to Brian Scipioni
On December 13, 2002, an eighth grade student at Churchville-Chili Middle School, Brian Scipioni, died unexpectedly of meningitis. I was asked to prepare and read to an emergency staff meeting, and minutes later to the school community, a message of condolence and hope. The message I put together began a nearly nine year record of twice-weekly “Words of Wisdom,” which I wrote and delivered to our school community. Many of my messages are assembled on this website as well as new messages which I hope will help you navigate this really difficult time. Here is the original script from December 16, 2002—as relevant today as it was then. — Mr. Nixon
Words of Wisdom: December 16, 2002
One thing we all share as human beings is that sooner or later we lose someone we love. It may be a grandparents, parent, a child, a student or a friend. Today, we at Churchville-Chili are sharing the loss of Brian Scipioni.
Rabbi Harold Kushner lost his son as a fourteen-year-old, and it caused him to write the book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” In that book, Rabbi Kushner says, “Laws of nature treat everyone alike. They do not make exceptions for good people or useful people. That is why good people get sick and get hurt as much as anyone.”
Rabbi Kushner asks, “Are you capable of forgiving and accepting in love a word which has disappointed you by not being perfect, a world in which there is so much unfairness and cruelty, disease and crime, earthquake and accident? Can you forgive its imperfections and love it because it is capable of containing great beauty and goodness, and because it is the only world we have?”
Today, as we face the loss of a very good young person, Brian Scipioni, remember that we have each other, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support in dealing with this very difficult time.
Coping with COVID
Episodes for middle schoolers who need a little helping coping with this period of life.
Managing Time | COVID Episode 4
Boredom seems to be a real enemy during this extended period of social isolation. When we’re in school, the only unstructured time is lunch. We know how long our classes last. We know who we’re going to see in the hall in between classes and everything seems to fit nicely into the pre-packaged day. Not so much now!
Kinds of Fear | COVID Episode 3
This is a scary period. Before my time and way before your time, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the country, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He was talking about the Great Depression which sent millions of people out of work. Was FDR right?
Out of Our Routine | COVID Episode 2
One of the toughest things about our current situation is that we are out of our routine of seeing our friends many times every day. That isolation can lead to loneliness or hopelessness. As the Reverend Valerie Austin writes in her poem, “The Cover of Night." “Under the cover of night I write, Alone; wrestling in shadows and through the darkness; tripping over many unseen messes; Confused, disoriented, and tempted to feel hopeless.” But there is a strategy to counteract this loneliness.
Confusing Times | COVID Episode 1
These are confusing times. Normally, when we have an unexpected day off from school, we can hardly wait to celebrate. As a teacher, I remember waiting for the phone to ring at 4:30 in the morning announcing a snow-day. But, this is different.