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When Monica Nawrocki moved from a regular classroom setting to the Regional Support Centre in Selkirk, Manitoba, she worked every day with a population of students who had been labeled “bad.” She thought she was simply going to learn new skills as an educator.

In fact, what she learned went far beyond words, definitions, skill, strategies, or philosophies. She learned about relationships, about herself, about the miracle of human resiliency and about the ability to change and grow. This frank and practical memoir is a reflection on her learning in seven years at the Centre.

The eleven short chapters work through the topics of communication, conflict, anger, and problem-solving. Each chapter shares actual experiences and reflects on what worked and what did not. This book is alive with story; real children in real situations with a real teacher. Nawrocki shares her experience with a surprisingly open heart. It is a quick read which promises to make you laugh, cry, and rethink some of your assumptions about how we approach troubled youth.

Table of Contents

1. Setting the Scene at the Centre: Talking upside down
2. Positive Reinforcement: Thanks for chucking that at the wall instead of me
3. Problem Solving: What were you thinking?
4. Avoiding Conflict: Let's make a deal
5. Dealing with Conflict: Seeing past the armour
6. Communication: Listening is harder than it sounds
7. Kids and Anger: The tip of the iceberg
8. The Bottom Line: Re-examining boundaries
9. Hitting the Wall: Can you trust 'new guy'?
10.If You Get Frustrated Take a Break: Why I am a dishwasher this year
11. Thank you

Monica Nawrocki

Monica Nawrocki has more than 20 years of experience in teaching and working with at-risk youth. As a teacher/counselor at the Regional Support Centre in Selkirk, Manitoba, she learned that empathy, love, and flexibility in the middle of a crisis is a tremendous opportunity for so-called “bad” kids to learn the important life skills that will lead them to success. She has written both fiction and non-fiction and now lives and works on Cortes Island, BC.