The Power of the Teaching Heart

What a month August has been! I have had the humbling opportunity to quite literally meet with teachers, parents and administrators across the country! From a large district in Cheyenne, Wyoming to a private school is Washington, D.C., teachers and administrators have been busily preparing for a fresh year of learning. From a small adobe school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to a school for unique learners in Tulsa, Oklahoma, bulletin boards are going up, pencils are being sharpened, and fresh books are being placed on desks in anticipation of students. From a district in Lexington, Kentucky, where teachers came during their own summer days to learn about children with learning challenges to a group of motivated and profoundly dedicated home school parents in Atlanta, Georgia, the 2015-2016 school year is underway.

When I travel like this and am accorded the privilege of meeting so many dedicated educators, the most overwhelming take-away is this:


My work affords me the unique ability to view education in every form in every state. It is a rare and sacred experience for someone like me, who has never dreamed of being anything other than a teacher.

What I know is this: Our kids are in good hands!

We may not agree with educational policies. We may not care for the policy makers. We may or may not view common core standards as good or evil. We see that what our public school teachers are expected to do on a daily basis is superhuman and close to impossible. Our media sources are infused with negativity about the state of the economy, the state of the modern family, the state of education. But amidst the chaos and nay-saying and excruciating budget cuts, what I know is this:

Our kids are in good hands!

I am blessed to spend my days with teachers: Classroom teachers, home school teachers, public school teachers and private school teachers. Teachers who wake up every morning, pushing through the fatigue and haze of sleepiness to quickly grab materials together to create  the lesson that came to them in their sleep. Teachers who have gone out and developed schools to meet the needs of other children who have challenges similar to their child’s. Teachers who have given up their own careers or person goals to stay home and educate their own children, even though it means seldom having a break or a second for themselves.

Teachers are a forced with which to be reckoned!!!

Aside from a mother’s ferocious love for her children, I know of few other earthly forces as powerful as the Teaching Heart. Thousands upon thousands of men and women face every day, ready to love, nurture and educate our children. Against increasing and ceaseless odds, they demonstrate dedication, energy, creativity, passion, compassion, mastery and curiosity. They spend their own time, their own limited income, and their own emotional resources to keep children engaged, loved and moving forward. They teach our children how to read, how to add, and how to share. They teach that art is essential, music is magical, and who you are on the playground is as important as how you do in the classroom.

So let me share the good news:  Our kids are in good hands!

Our diverse, expansive and often tumultuous nation is brimming over with people dedicated to the art of teaching. Nurture your child’s teachers. Be present. Be available. Ask them what they need, and then help out. Encourage and support them. When you see your child’s teacher dragging at the end of a long day, smile and say thank you. Take the time to ask you neighbor why she has chosen to home school her children, and watch as her eyes light up. Almost every teacher will tell you it’s never the children that cause them to leave the profession. It’s never their lack of love or dedication, but rather a sense of unsurmountable expectations that don’t seem to go noticed or appreciated. Show your support and appreciation. Let’s keep the good ones around.

There is life-changing power in the Teaching Heart. It is the power to move mountains, the power to love children, the power to change the world. Think about it. Pray about it. Then go nurture it.

Go hug a teacher.

The Power of Independence



1. the state or quality of being independent.

2.freedom from the control, influence, support, aid,or the like, of others

3. a competency.


Happy Independence Day, everyone!  And Happy Birthday, America!

This July 4th, I’ve found myself really pondering the meaning of independence.  Certainly, in the context of this holiday, it pertains to independence from England’s tyranny, and the ability to form a new and free country.

But what does the word “independence” mean in our lives, especially as it pertains to the kids we love and teach?

As I travel throughout the country and teach thousands of teachers, parents, and professionals, I end my classes with a challenge:

The average lifespan in the US is 80 years.  The average years of formal education in the US is 12.9.  That means that, on average, our kids will have 67.1 years of life when they are not involved in formal education.  Are we using our time well, are we focusing on life skills, character development, vocational discovery, and self-advocacy?  Are we, as teachers and parents, tapping into those years to build independent thinkers, adults who will act on principle and not just follow the crowd, people who can speak up for themselves, speak up for others who can’t, and make their way into adulthood?

Independence begins at birth, as soon as the cord is cut.  Toddlers fight for independence (the delightful terrible twos!), and “I do it my way!” is a constant refrain.  The training wheels come off, the driver’s license come their way, graduations follow suit.

Every day, our kids strive for independence.  They try to figure out who they are in this crazy world, where they fit into the big picture.  While a strongly independent spirit isn’t always the most easy to parent, it is often the most revolutionary in the world.

Let’s choose to cherish independence in our kids, and find ways to facilitate it in every day life. Raising independent kids means there will be lots of mess and mistakes along the way.  Things won’t always be perfect, and failure will be a necessity at times.

But carefully consider the third definition listed above:

a competency

So as summer begins to wane and the new school year starts sneaking forward, let’s not just work on reading, math, and writing competencies.  Let’s value the competency that will create strong, capable and self-sufficient adults:  Independence

July 4th

The 4 of July.  Just the thought of this holiday floods my heart and brain with precious childhood memories.  I can close my eyes and instantly be transported back in time.  I am a little girl in pristine Madeira, Ohio, holding my dad’s hand while we stood on the sidewalk outside the Daisy Chain gift shop and watched the parade go by.  I look up at my dad, a veteran of the Korean War, as tears stream down his cheeks and his free hand is either placed over his heart or is saluting other vets marching by.  I am equal parts embarrassed and impressed as his voice seems to be the loudest, boldest one singing God Bless America as the high school marching band plays.  The parade is followed by a huge 20-family cookout in the cul-de-sac, complete with decorate-your-bike contests, endless hours of Kick the Can, and of course hundreds of sparklers.  My memories are of what July 4 should be….a country-wide birthday party for America.

Today I still look upon the 4 of July as our nation’s birthday party, but I find myself focusing more on the concept of independence and freedom.  I realize now, from the vantage of age ( and I hope wisdom), the sacrifices that went in to our ability to march in parades and watch fireworks.  Though my dad never spoke of his war days, I have learned more about what he likely experienced, and the tears have a more powerful message to me.  Now I am married to a veteran, and this 4 I have a nephew who is deployed.  While I cherish the day to join the country in an American birthday celebration, I also am humbled and overwhelmed with the ability to pull back the curtain and see what cost this freedom and independence has been for so many.

How brave those men were 239 years ago, signing a declaration of independence  from tyranny and an over-reaching government, not knowing what was ahead, but knowing with faith and conviction they could move forward. This July 4, as we enjoy grilling out and spending time with family and friends, let’s not forget the cost of freedom, and take inspiration from the visionaries that came before us!

I Am Listening!

Thank you so much to those of you who have contacted me after speaking engagements, conferences, and meetings, asking if there is a way of sharing information and updates in an ongoing manner.

I have always been a bit intimidated about the whole “blogosphere” thing, but I agree with you….there are too many cutting edge research articles, books to review, and new products that can help our kids to not get information out on a more regular basis.

SO….here it is!  I will use this space to interview professionals, review products and books, and to share insights and ideas.  My hope is that this will become an interactive forum where we can all share ideas and encouragement, and new ways to reach children who struggle!

Stay tuned, the first “real” blog entry is soon to follow.  I look forward to visiting with you soon!



Depending on your part of the country, the new school year is only a matter of days or weeks away.

It’s the season of new action-hero backpacks,  freshly sharpened pencils, the aroma of fresh crayons, and the bustling commotion back-to-school open houses.  

Parents and students eagerly fill the halls, crowding around the lists hung neatly on the walls to see which class, which friends, which teachers will be part of creating the year ahead.

It’s exciting.  Exhilarating.  Invigorating.

And also a bit terrifying.  As much as hope factors into a new, unseen adventure, so does fear, especially if you are the parent of a child who learns or behaves in a slightly (or obviously) different way.  For these parents, it’s often less about seeing if their son’s best friend is in the class as it is about if their son will MAKE a friend in this class.  It’s less about did we get the teacher the moms at the grocery store said was the best, and more about will the teacher “get”  my daughter, will she be able to see her creativity beneath her blurting out, will she understand that that IS my son’s best work, even if it appears to be hurried and scribbled.

As a parent of a struggling student myself, I know that feeling oh-too-well.  As a professional who has had the privilege of ushering in new school years with hundreds of families of unique kids, I’ve shared this crazy mix of hope and caution over many tables and cups of coffee.

Without exception, what almost always happens, is we realize we are holding our breaths.  We are almost afraid to dream of all the remarkable possibilities  in case they don’t manifest.  We are preparing for battles that most of us will never even have to fight.  We are holding our breath as we armor up for the unknown.

There is a reason that breathing is a critical part of the labor and birth process.  It is through the deep, focused, measured breaths that we move forward into the unknown.  It prepares our brains and bodies for what is to come.  It slows our heart rates and clears our minds. It allows us to be present in the moment, without interference from past or future. 

So during this time of year, when my families are saying, “but what about…. what if… will I….”, my response is always the same:

Just breathe.  

You’ve got this!  We’ve got this!  We will take it one step at a time.  Together we’ll rejoice over surprising victories,  deal with frustration, and probably shed a tear or two.   You won’t be doing it alone. Let’s not bring forward events of the past, and let’s not anticipate so many things that likely won’t happen.

Let’s JUST breathe!  Take it one breath at a time.  You’ve got this!