Riverview teachers class consoles U-M football player

Hank Minckiewicz
– RIVERVIEW REGISTER

When Riverview educator Bethany Tomasek heard about people on social media berating, belittling and harassing U of M receiver Ronnie Bell after Bell dropped an important pass in a game against Penn State University, she was appalled. 

Tomesek a Riverview native who has taught in the community for five years and is a University of Michigan graduate, also thought it was a chance for a teaching moment.

 On the Monday after the Penn State game Tomasek returned to her fifth grade class and told her students about the incident. The students understandably we’re horrified. 

The class decided to do something about it. What they did was write letters, lots of letters. 

“I told the kids that everyone makes mistakes,” said Tomasek. “And they thought it was awful the way he was being treated. I told them to think about if you did bad on a math test, how would you feel if some people told you you should never do math again? They understood the inherent unfairness of it.” 

Like a lot of people Tomasek was amazed that so many people could attack a player who was still, after all, just a teenager. 

“I can’t believe there were people out there that would say these kinds of things, especially people who claim to be fans. You could tell no one felt worse about the play than Ronnie Bell. 

Thomas’ class was featured in a Detroit Free Press article and talked about by the ABC broadcast crew on national television during U-M’s next game, a blowout win over Notre Dame.

It was a little overwhelming, Tomasek admitted.

“It’s not every day they talk about you on national TV,” she said.

Thomas forwarded her classes letters of encouragement to the U of M athletic department. She has not heard back, but even if she doesn’t she knows her fifth grade students I have learned a lesson about how to treat people.

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