These funky little relaxation jars are so easy to make and are wonderful visual aid for helping kids calm themselves when they’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

They’re a popular aid for parents but we also encourage teachers to use them in the classroom and have included the instructions in our primary/elementary school curriculum.  read more →

I teach at a Title I school (which means over 75% of our kids are on free/reduced breakfast/lunch status). Almost every morning one of my little fellows brings me FOOD from the cafeteria (an apple, pear, box of raisins…). read more →

I wanted to share an amazing experience we had in the past week.

My daughter attends a small private Lutheran Elementary School in Fort Wayne, IN. Last week, my daughter injured her heel and could not walk on it. After X-rays and a Dr visit, we arrived at school Tuesday morning in a wheelchair. For this small school community, to my knowledge, this was a new experience for the staff and students. read more →

It was Thanksgiving Lunch at Maggie’s Middle school.

As my son, John stood next to Maggie the vice-principal of the school came to meet him and said, “You must belong to Maggie”. John smiled and said, “Yes I do!”

The vice-principal told John what a lovely girl Maggie is. That she has a wonderful attitude and is friends with everyone. She also commented on the fact that as a new middle-schooler, each student got to choose an elective class. It could have been art or music and indeed one of the options was to work with the mentally handicapped. And this was the choice that Maggie had made; to be a peer tutor. read more →

Launched on 15 July 2016, it’s been an exciting time as Nourish Network finds its feet and place in the local community.

Nourish is a volunteer based, holistic outreach program developed to educate, empower and support parents and guardians struggling to provide for their families. Our ultimate aim is to fill our members with newfound confidence, employable skills and effective techniques to help heal their wounds, improve their lives and find work.

Working with local schools in the Yarra Ranges (outer eastern Melbourne), families are selected based on circumstances and their willingness to participate and eventually give back to their community.

A member-only program, Nourish partners with SecondBite and local businesses and organizations to provide a weekly allocation of fruit, vegetables, bread, eggs, recipes and nutritional information, wellbeing resources, friendship, and support.

We used 2016 as a pilot year with a small group to gain insight into the social, emotional and financial struggles our members face so we are better able to provide for their needs.
read more →

My story is rather long, I hope that’s ok.
Let me start by telling you about my son, Peyton James.

Peyton2Peyton James was an amazing boy. He had beautiful red hair, piercing hazel eyes that changed from green to blue, and a quirky sense of humor.

He was born at 28 weeks gestation and weighed only 2.52 lbs. He spent 35 days in the NICU before being able to come home. While in the hospital, he spent 3 weeks on pure oxygen. What wasn’t known then was that the oxygen was causing a discoloration in the enamel of his permanent teeth – a problem that we wouldn’t see for several years. Because of these medications, his permanent teeth were a mottled yellow color. In second grade, the teasing began. “Why don’t you brush your teeth?” Why are your teeth so nasty?” and many other hurtful questions and comments were made. He was also picked on because of his hair, his glasses and the fact that he was smaller than most of the other boys. He was seen as weak and became a target. read more →

In September of 2005, Martha Cothren, a social studies schoolteacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, “Where’s our desks?” read more →

In the span of about 20 minutes I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to see almost every student enter the building. Some are dropped off by their parents. Others ride their bikes to school. But most of our students take the bus to school each morning.

I try to give as many students as possible a high five, a handshake or a hug. It is without a doubt one of the best parts of my school day. And while I look forward to seeing each and every child that enters the building, there are three girls that just always seem to make my day.

Invariably, one of them will see me first. Once she does, she comes to me. Arms wide open. Preparing for the biggest hug. The next girl latches on. Then another. Until some days we have what I like to call a three-person-hug. read more →

Gratitude … goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past, I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend an education conference in San Francisco, CA. While I was there, I learned many exciting findings from the “science of happiness.” That weekend revolutionized my perspectives related to teaching and parenting. Since then I have been on a quest to create a happier classroom and to help other teachers do the same thing.

One lesson I learned at the conference pertains to the relationship between happiness and success. As recent research has shown, success does not always lead to happiness. Many of us know this from experience. For example, landing a highly coveted job and buying your dream home may not necessarily result in a blissful state. On the other hand, people who are happy tend to find success in school, at work, and in every domain in life. read more →

As a 6th grade teacher, I feel the necessity to teach my students about kindness, compassion and empathy. read more →

Some children spend more of their time awake at school than they do in their own homes. That’s a big thing when you’re still growing and learning. It’s a big thing too for parents to entrust their precious ones to others, sometimes strangers, during these vital years. Especially as much of a child’s developing personality and morals can be so easily influenced by those around them.

During the early years of my own children’s education, I worried about the role models they would encounter at school. It concerned me that my hard work instilling good values may be lost if character education wasn’t a priority in the classroom.

Fortunately, these days, educators are more aware of the need to prioritize social and emotional learning at school. They realize the important role that kindness and empathy have in nurturing happiness and self-esteem.

“It’s no secret that kindness sparks kindness. The secret is that kindness takes wings when it is modeled and taught with passion and purpose. When we intentionally help and encourage our students to put kindness into action through their thoughts, words, and deeds, then the world will truly be a gentler, more peaceful place. Simply put, we’ll be better.

Girls holding handsKindness in schools can look like a smile, feel like a hug, sound like a sweet greeting or a sincere compliment. A genuine inquiry about how someone is doing can mean so much. And when we have created that climate of kindness and caring inside our school walls, the natural next step is to take it home to our families, out into our community and then beyond our borders into our global world. And when kindness ripples, prepare to bathe in a tsunami of goodness.”

Barbara Gruener, Counsellor, Westwood-Bales Elementary, Friendswood, Texas, USA read more →

Over the years, I have learned so many important things about kindness from my students. I have seen students come together during the most difficult of situations and how much more effective students are when they work together to serve in the community. But I think one of the most beautiful things I have learned about kindness from my students is how to take the everyday things and make them special when a friend is hurting. read more →