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...

Marty Keltz – The Road to Not Perfect

Click on the Image Above to Watch the  YouTube  This story always amazes me. It is both shocking and inspiring – a testament to human resilience. perseverance and creativity. But it also makes me wonder how many kids, how many “different” and exquisitely unique souls, we’ve lost due to our insistence that everyone learn the same thing the same way. It’s time we started celebrating and embracing diversity, finding ways to help each child find and grow his or her special abilities. Our future depends on what and how we teach our kids.  – Jena...

Hey, I Can Do That!

by Marty Keltz and Jena Ball Anyone who’s been in education any length of time knows the feeling. A TED talk, blog post or quote shared by a colleague reignites your passion for teaching; a child’s eyes light up as she discovers the answer to a question; and something you hear in a Twitter chat makes you sit up, take notice and think, “Hey, I can do that!” We call those feelings, “aha moments,” and we’ve been having them for several weeks now during a Twitter chat called, #Edtechbridge. Despite its techie title, the real power of #Edtechbridge lies in the bridges participants are forging between industrial era, one-size fits all approaches to education – which quality test children like cars coming off an assembly line – and 21st century models, which stress the importance of teaching the whole child by finding and nurturing what makes each unique. Educators who show up for #Edtechbridge not only articulate, discuss and suggest real-world solutions to issues facing teachers, but propose alternative, some might say disruptive, approaches to educational reform as well. That many of these discussions include technology is to be expected, but are nothing new. The equivalent of today’s Genius Hour and Maker Movement were already happening in the mid 1960s during the Media Literacy movement, and were supported, in part, by the first federal title grants (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) under Lyndon Johnson. What distinguishes #Edtechbridge is the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a global community of educators who not only inspire but empower one another as well. The best and most exciting example of empowerment we...