Leonard Cohen famously said, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” If anyone had told me I’d form a company devoted to chipping away at the small but widening crack in the foundation of education, I would’ve laughed. A journalist by training, I spent the first 30+ years of my career writing features for national publications. If I thought about education at all, it was to marvel that my mother survived 35 years as a teacher.
Then six years ago, my life and the universe conspired to change all that. In rapid succession I was introduced to a six-pound dachshund with paralyzed back legs from abuse suffered in a puppy mill; was asked to write a book for IFAW’s “Cats, Dogs and Us” education program; and began working with the humane educator at my local SPCA. Overnight the importance of making emotional intelligence a cornerstone of education became unavoidably clear. What could I create, I wondered, that would help kids learn and practice kindness?
The answer to that question was the CritterKin book series. By 2013, I’d written three books, and was visiting elementary schools across the U.S. It was during these visits that I began hearing an unsettling meme. Seven, eight and nine-year-old children were telling me their work was ugly, bad and “not perfect.” When I finally asked what “not perfect” meant, the kids replied, “Stupid, messed up, dirty, broken, nasty and loser.” Clearly being “not perfect” was a very bad thing, even though the kids understood no one is perfect.
I spent the next two years writing the fourth CritterKin book – The Not Perfect Hat Club - and developing a global reading and writing initiative to go with it. Since their launch in 2015, the response has been overwhelmingly positive:
“This has been one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had in education. Jena, you are truly AMAZING. Thank you!!!!” – Gloriann Heikes, 1st. grade teacher, Minnesota
“Thank you Jena for inviting us to this wonderful initiative.” Avnita Bir, R.N. Podar School, Mumbai, India
“I’m so very impressed by the changed mindset of our students thanks to NPHC. Proud principal!” – Vicki Lofton, Principal, Citrus County, Florida
“Amazing! I love it. NPHC is changing the world one perfectly not perfect kiddo at a time!” – Karly Moura, Sun Terrace Elementary School
“You’ve organized this so much more professionally than any curriculum I’ve ever used. I love that it is global too.” – Susie Reilly, 4th grade teacher, California
As of November of 2016, the NPHC initiative has grown to the point where I require partners. It’s time to reach out through LinkedIn’s wide and diverse network to build a team that can help me crack the foundation of education wide open. I’ve already reached out to several companies through LinkedIn, but plan to take advantage of ProFinder to find creative professionals as well. Thanks to LinkedIn, this process promises to be both engaging and educational. Thank you for putting business connections and tools at my fingertips. – Jena Ball
Copyright 2016 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserve