An Interview with Oumou Traore: “Bully Mother”

Sep 7, 2011 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

1)   First of all, where were you born and what were your early years like?

Oumou Traore

I was born on the Ivory Coast, West Africa. I lived in extreme poverty during my early years. At times, I used to feel pity for myself because I was hungry most of the time and most of my clothes were donations from others.

2)      How did you make it to New York City and what did you find there?

I came to New York for an arranged marriage.

3)      Tell us about your struggle for education?

My struggle for education happened on the Ivory Coast because educational resources there were so slim that students were denied basic education.

4)      How can the average teacher help students understand the importance of education?

As a teacher working for the New York City Board of Education, the average teacher can help students understand the importance of education by creating a direct connection between students’ classroom activities to their lives outside of the classroom. For example, having each student read stories that relate to his/her personal life is necessary. For example, children whose parents are going through a divorce can read books about how divorce can affect them by understanding their emotions.

5)      Instead of reading, many of today’s students are text messaging and surfing the Internet- what can parents and then teachers do? What should they do?

As the mother of three girls as well as a teacher, parents and teachers need to understand the way our children use technology. Although it is new to most of us, it is not to them. As a result, we need to make a conscious effort to help them use technology positively. Parents and teachers can help children learn how to positively surf the net because if not, our children would be on their own to figure it out. We can support our children surf the net to research their school assignments or to use educational programs to read instead of surfing it negatively. Educators and parents need to understand that children use texting to communicate in the same way we used the phone as our way of communicating with friends when we were growing up. The way our children use technology is not to be feared but to be understood.

6)      Why did you write the book “Bully Mother “?

I wrote “Bully Mother” to help people understand that they have the power within themselves to overcome obstacles that may encounter.

7)      Where can interested others get a copy of this book?

People can order a copy of “Bully Mother” by visiting It is also available on, or

8)      You currently teach special education- what are your main problems, worries and concerns?

As a special education teacher, my main concerns are the fact that most of my students do not have access to the resources that they need in order to excel. My special need students are capable of learning and understanding difficult concepts as long as those concepts are broken down into smaller steps. For example, most of my nonverbal students with autism do not have access to computers. I know that allowing them access to computers will help them use technology to communicate better with others.

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