Shared Spirit: Integrity First, or Just the Ends?
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Shared Spirit: Integrity First, or Just the Ends?

Readers respond to a woman's dilemma about her final assignment toward her master's in special education.

Rachel Stein

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

Recap: Julie stands on the cusp of completing her master’s in special education. One more case study, another final, and voila! She will be armed to join the workforce and improve the lot of struggling children. A promising future beckons.

But there is an issue with her case study. Julie’s friend Shelly had assented to Julie working with her special-needs daughter, Robin, as a model in the case study. But after the first session, Shelly became unreliable, leaving Julie in a bind, needing two more sessions and facing a deadline.

Should she find another child and start over? Or could she invent the last two sessions to complete the assignment and graduate?

Earn Your Diploma

As a teacher for over three decades, I have a unique perspective to offer, understanding the angles of both the student and teacher. I, too, was a student once upon a time and can relate to your raging thirst to reach the finish line.

You have worked so hard, have lost endless sleep, and feel desperate to turn the page and begin a new chapter.

May I suggest that you consult with your teacher and simply ask whether inventing the last segments of the case study would be acceptable?

I know this sounds a little unconventional. It’s like saying to a police officer, “Do you mind looking the other way while I run this red light, please?” And if the teacher says no, you’re out of luck: You’re stuck either finishing up with Shelly and Robin or starting fresh with someone else.

Sometimes it’s worthwhile to project into the future so that you have a clear view of the present. If you fudge the case study based on your own decision, how will you feel when you are presented with your diploma? Will you be able to hold your head high and feel proud of your accomplishment, or will that valuable document sear a hole in your heart?

Weeks, months or years down the line, when you are teaching your students or your own children about values such as integrity, will you be able to look them in the eye as a paradigm of trust?

Good luck, Julie. And mazel tov.

— Frank Adelson

End Justifies Means

I, too, graduated and hold a master’s in special education. Surprisingly, I had the same experience while doing my case study, and so did many of my friends.

We made a collaborative decision: The group of us invented our case studies. After all, the main point of the assignment was to learn. Even though the person’s struggles lived in our imaginations, writing and evaluating them still enhanced our learning.

In my mind, I felt like the goal justified the means. The diploma I earned enabled me to open locked doors and mold future generations.

Imagine the child who continually fails throughout his school career. Where will he be as an adult? Perhaps holding a low-level job, restrained by the shackles of low self-esteem.

Now picture that same child with a teacher who helps him champion the system and climb high to achieve greatness. Just imagine the teacher’s sheer bliss at sharing in his growth!

Without the teacher’s encouragement and alternative methods, this child would have dried up and wilted.

So, go ahead, my friend. Invent your case study. And then step forward with confidence and help children reach the stars.

— Marge David

Clarion Call of Truth

At 86 years old, I have earned the right to resort to clichés. Mama always wagged a finger and insisted, “The end doesn’t justify the means.”

Be a woman of integrity in every area of your life, especially when it’s difficult. Listen to the pristine voice from within, the clarion call of truth. And then you will truly graduate with honors.

— Beth Astro

All dilemmas are submitted by friends or fellow readers. Send yours to for publication. On another note, Judaica Corner is selling my new book, “Liftoff!” Treat yourself to 23 true, inspiring stories — most of them about people you know and love.

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