Jena Ball – Catapulted

    Catapulted – Education Goes Global Until about two years ago, I told anyone who asked me that I was a writer. Since I’ve spent the better part of my life penning everything from marketing material and textbooks to speeches for SONY’s founder Akio Morita, this made perfect sense, except for one thing. The brightly colored thread stitching everything together has been education. Whether it was creating custom ESL manuals for Japanese businessmen traveling to the States or developing an online writing course for “underachieving” teens in Nevada, education has been central to my writing life. Then in 2013 I came up with the idea for a series of children’s books called CritterKin. I loved the idea of giving kids a chance to experience the world through the eyes of a pack of mixed breed dogs. Animals (critters) have always felt like family (kin) to me, and have been some of my most loyal friends and teachers.  However, I had no idea that CritterKin would catapult me out of my comfy writer’s niche into the arena of global education. Within weeks after publishing the first CritterKin book, Poco a Poco, I was reading to kids at local summer camps and elementary schools. Within six months I was not only reading, but developing projects designed to translate the messages in the books into empowering, real-world experiences. When I began connecting with educators from all parts of the world via Twitter, and accepting invitations to visit classrooms around the world via Skype and GHO, I abandoned all pretense of being “just a writer.” It was clear that my words and...

Jena Ball – There’s Something About Rainbows

The flight from Raleigh, North Carolina to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was short, comfortable and drenched in late afternoon sunlight until we began our descent. Then rain clouds abruptly reduced visibility to zero and we had a wet and rocky ride until we broke through them just above the runway. Our reward was a rainbow that appeared to have attached itself to the left wing of the plane and escorted us all the way to our gate. Now I’m a sucker for rainbows. I’ve come to see them not only as a sign all is right with the world, but as a harbinger of good things to come as well. This particular rainbow,  plucked from the clouds at 10,000 feet, did not disappoint. I took it as the gift that it was, promising a wonderful visit with the kids and teachers at John R. Tibbott Elementary School. I was met at the airport by one of my favorite folks in education – Erin (the librarian) Preder: @butterfli820 . I’ve known Erin for a couple of years now. She was one of the first to read the CritterKin books and see their potential to teach empathy, compassion and kindness. CritterKin’s mission, to integrate those story-driven lessons into real life experiences, dovetailed nicely with the school’s “Kindness Garden,” where students were learning how food is grown and finds its way to our tables. Erin took CritterKin to her Principal, a forward thinking educator named Ana Wilson, who gave us her approval and practical support. Together Erin and I devised a system that allowed me to read, write, draw and even dance with her...

Karin Lippert – What is the DNA of a Great School?

Click HERE or on the Image Above to Watch the Interview with Dana Ziegler and Christina Luce   What is in the DNA of a Great School? Nate Perry Elementary Has IT! THE INGREDIENTS 1. Teach acceptance, tolerance, being mindful, kindness and community as part of the LEARNING. 2. Create an environment that celebrates children’s uniqueness. 3. Celebrate the creativity and collaboration of the community – principal, teachers and students.   Marty Keltz and I walked into Nate Perry Elementary (NPE) in Liverpool, New York on a sunny morning last week for the Not Perfect Hat Club Day and were greeted by Dana Ziegler, the principal. First, I was struck by her warm and gracious smile. Then, we put our bags in her office and set off on a tour of the school. Our first stop was a visit to Christina Luce’s class. Christina and her students know Marty and Jena Ball from last year’s Skype visits for the Lead With Your Heart book and the CritterKin #BeKind PBL. Big smiles and hugs in that classroom! Christina talked about the “Be Kind” experience her students had last year in the interview we did with her and Dana Ziegler. For Christina it is the connective thread Jena has created with her books that led to her enthusiasm for the Not Perfect Hat Club message. “It was a natural,” she said, “because it resonated and confirmed the experiences she’s had with her students.” Lead With Your Heart inspired her class and created a clear path to NPHC Day events! As we walked around the school, I was amazed. We saw and...

Marty Keltz – I Dream of Not Perfect Hats

  On Tuesday, May 26, 2015 I had the honor of sharing my Not Perfect Hat story with the students and teachers at Nate Perry Elementary school in Liverpool, New York.  Most of my passion for education, and the reason I have devoted my career to creating positive change in the field, comes from the challenges I faced in school myself.  All this is chronicled in the video below. Click on the image above to play the video After telling my story to an auditorium filled to overflowing with kiddos wearing Not Perfect Hats, Physical Education teacher, Phil Gooley, came up to to say hello. He told me he had a student for me to meet. His warmth and enthusiasm immediately made me smile. I listened to him tell me about Braden. Like the younger Marty I talked about in my speech, Braden is in the 5th grade. His wonderful and supportive classroom teacher is Colleen Kires. Hearing about  Braden was like getting the antidote for an ache I’ve struggled with for years in my soul. Phil told me how this wonderful student struggles with dyslexia and is just learning how to read. Phil is a huge fan and supporter of Braden. He loves his enthusiasm and lets Braden know he is valued and supported. Five minutes later, Phil returned with Braden at his side. A happy, confident looking 5th grader, Braden immediately agreed to have his picture taken with me. I couldn’t help but smile at the ease with which Braden greeted me, and how comfortable and safe he clearly felt standing there with Phil Gooley’s arm around...