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SCOTT DREYER: “Just Because It’s Online…”

Since becoming a teacher in 1987, I’ve tried to maintain my credibility by being honest with my students and “telling it like it is.” In fact, it was during my first or second year of teaching in Henrico County, Virginia that I read an advice column from either Ann Landers or her twin sister Abigail Van Buren, better known as “Dear Abby,” on the topic of “How to Talk to Teenagers.” As a newly-minded high school teacher, I realized I needed all the help I could get. One gem was: “Tell us the truth. We can handle it.”

So, I try not to lie to my students. However, over the years, there have been times I have told my classes something, only to have a pupil challenge me in class or else come back a day or two later and point that what I had taught was wrong. When I realize I had been in error, I try to immediately apologize and give the class the updated, correct information. I usually then add, half-jokingly: “When I first told you (false information), I was sincere…but I was sincerely wrong.”

That flashback from my classroom in the late 1980s came to mind just now, reading a fresh email. As posted here on April 6, I included a stirring poem about habits entitled “Who Am I?” Wanting to give proper credit, I did a few web searches and from each source I checked, John Di Lemme was cited as the poet. “If all these pages agree, surely Di Lemme is the author,” I concluded.

But no!

The following, polite email set me straight.

The article located at states that John Di Lemme wrote the poem about a habit. John only used the poem in one of his most popular teachings several years ago. He is not the author of the poem. The author is actually anonymous.
Thank you for updating this information in the article. John definitely doesn’t want to be given credit for someone else’s work.
Christie Di Lemme
Her email in turn gave me two thoughts:
1. “Just because it’s online, it ain’t necessarily so” pardon my grammar. Without going down too many rabbit holes or making too many people’s heads explode, how many “facts” over the past, say, two or three years has “everyone” agreed upon, only to be proven false? Likewise, how many ideas scornfully pooh-poohed as “conspiracy theories” or “misinformation” have, under more scrutiny, been proven to be true?
2. How refreshing to see an example of humility. John Di Lemme, who has achieved considerable fame and success as a communicator and business coach, doesn’t want to steal someone else’s thunder and get credit for another’s work.
You learn something new every day!

–Scott Dreyer

Scott Dreyer M.A. in his classroom. Dreyer, of Roanoke, has been a licensed teacher since 1987 and now leads a team of educators teaching English and ESL to a global audience. Their website is

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