In front of The Ellen Show’s national television audience, school teacher Terron Nolan of North Fresno (California) Church confronted some of his deepest fears—clowns and cotton balls. Terron, his wife, Kristina, and their three children had the surprise of their lives when they were called up from the audience by talk show host Ellen Degeneres. Terron’s creative approach to helping his sixth graders face their fears earned them the moment in the spotlight and a gift of $25,000 for Robinson School.
Why do you address the subject of fear with your students?
Many students live in a nearby apartment complex with so much brokenness and violence. Every day I have to send them back into this environment of extreme fear. I wanted to show them how to walk through fear.
What do you draw in from your own experience?
I grew up in a gang environment where you don’t show fear. My own fears were always something I was ashamed of.
What was your approach?
I challenged them to write down one of their fears and to face that fear before the end of the year. I made a list of my own fears and posted videos of myself conquering those fears. They have been absolutely loving watching their teacher jump off a 45-foot pole and handling a snake.
The theme of fear is particularly appropriate in this time of global pandemic.
My students are so terrified. School is closed right now, but my videos remind them of how to face their fear. You don’t have to stay stuck; you can push forward. Like when I was holding that snake. I was terrified. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But when it was over it was ok. That’s how it will be with this virus.
How does your class mantra, “One Class, One Family” help students face their fear?
God allowed me to plant that seed at the beginning of the year. It’s mind-blowing how they’re running with it. They’re scared, but they’ll go visit or deliver some food to a classmate who is home alone. That’s the beauty that comes out of fear when we think about other people instead of ourselves.
What advice do you have for parents in this fearful time?
Learn from your kids. So many of us are feeling the impact of social distancing. Yesterday on a bike ride with my 4-year-old son, he was relentless to make sure the man walking his dog saw him smiling and waving at him. Even though these are scary times, we still need to love one another.
Find Terron Nolan’s GRIT&INTEGRITY YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFL1PEDeJfzQfYLpy61vO1Q
For a clip of their appearance on The Ellen Show go to https://youtu.be/TqrpESb6D-U
Kathy Heinrichs Wiest is a freelance writer who loves the smell of whole wheat bread in the oven, the feel of an orange being plucked from the tree and the view from her front porch in Kingsburg, California. On Sunday mornings you’ll find her in the fourth pew from the front on the left at Kingsburg MB Church, moved by the hymns and praise songs and inspired by the stories of God at work locally and around the world. She and her husband, Steve, own Dovetail Remodeling. They have two grown daughters, one son-in-law and a precious granddaughter.