Written By: Hans Appel
“The more I learn about PEOPLE,
the more I like my DOG”
I’m a dog lover! I’ve had dogs my entire life. I’m that guy who enjoys seeing pictures of other people’s baby puppies. I make no apologies...
There’s nothing I enjoy more than coming home to my baby Sheltie (similar to miniature Collies for those non-dog people). Shelties come from a long line of worker dogs who are very smart and originally were trained to herd sheep. They require lots of exercise, attention, and time. And that’s fine by me, because I love them unconditionally. My 6 year old Maya loves to go on daily walks. Each day, my wife and I take Maya for at least a 3 mile walk. Sometimes we go 5-6 miles and on occasion we take her 10+ miles...she’ll walk as long and as far as we choose to go. Sometimes we both take her while other days, it's only one of us. But Maya walks EVERYDAY, rain or shine!
Her daily walks are critical to her routine, happiness, and fitness...and she actively reminds us if we’re running late for our morning walk. On a good day, Maya gets barked at by Rocco, the neighbor schnauzer (we think she has a crush on him), or sees a squirrel and/or rabbit. On a great day, we venture to walk by the Columbia river, drive to a forest hike in Mt. Rainier or see a baby deer in the woods near Suncadia. On an exceptional day, Maya wakes up on vacation in Santa Monica which includes a walk along Ocean Ave, breakfast outdoors at the Courtyard Kitchen, and a stop at the dog bakery. Make no mistake, she loves EVERY days’ walk.
Without fail, my wife and I notice landmines of dog poop on sidewalks, streets, and other surprise locations. Since we’re so diligent about cleaning up after Maya, we always wonder, who are these people who aren’t cleaning up after their animals? I imagine the arrogance and indifference someone must have to observe their dog going potty and then simply ignoring it. Perhaps, their thinking to themselves: ‘someone else can clean that up.’ Such selfishness irritates me and has gotten me thinking...If the roles were reversed and the dogs were expected to do the cleanup, I can’t imagine a dog being this character weak…
Dogs have exceptional character. Furthermore, their incredible judges of other's character. Oh, I know. The non-dog folks are rolling their eyes at this, actually they may have already given up on this blog post. But here’s the thing, dogs are incredible at identifying the energy, emotions, or intentions in others. They make exceptional therapy, service and emotional support animals. Caesar Milon reminds us to be the pack leader in our home as dogs inherently look to adults for leadership but can spot inauthenticity like nobody’s business.
But dogs are more than just keenly observant. They’re CharacterStrong. They have a commitment to their loved ones that shows up as soon as you walk through the door. A human has NEVER greeted you like a dog greets you. They absolutely love when their family arrives home. Dogs demonstrate patience when your figuring out how to train them or how to help them when they don’t feel well. They’re selfless and kind in their actions with children in the home. Often times, dogs are intensely protective of newborn babies and can be incredibly gentle with small children. They always respect the pack leader and are quick to forgive when we fail to feed them on time or discipline them for something they don’t understand. If you catch your dog doing something their not supposed to do, they demonstrate honesty by hanging their head and putting their tail between their legs.
And these Character traits can be learned even after horrible animal abuse and neglect. My good friend, Kim Hobbick volunteers at Pets OVER Populated Prevention (POPP). She helps find forever homes for rescues, strays, and lost animals. Many of these dogs end up in her care because their unwanted or forgotten. However, with some training and love they make miraculous turnarounds. Kim and her fellow volunteers have even created a student leadership program that gives kids an opportunity to work with these wonderful animals. We’ve had a number of students involved with POPP and have found it to be a fantastic leadership experience.
Maya always enjoys making yearly appearances at the Pooch & Pal Run & Walk Charity Event. This usually involves several television appearances as Maya helps Kim promote the special event. Indeed, dogs are incredible character role models.
Of course, humans don’t always model amazing character for our animals. Maya genuinely loves almost everyone. She’s uber friendly and super sweet. And unless she senses danger or concern, she generally assumes good in all. On the other hand, we do have to routinely encourage her to Choose Love toward the vacuum, mailman, and microwave. But nobody’s perfect! Despite her amazing disposition, my wife/I noticed something a while back.
One of our older neighbors had a dog named Ichibon. Now, while Ichibon was a nice dog, Ichibon’s owners were...well....kinda...grumpy. To be honest, we never really connected with these folks and over time, although I’m ashamed to admit it, we really didn’t enjoy them. While Maya was initially indifferent to Ichibon, she quickly began growling or barking anytime she would see him in the neighborhood. And not a playful bark but a deeper angrier sound.
Yeah, that’s right...my wife and I had unintentionally trained Maya to hate this dog (and by association our neighbors). Now here’s the sad thing, Ichibon passed away a couple years ago; but, Maya still growls and barks whenever we walk past those neighbors. It’s kind of embarrassing! For a dog that's so well behaved in all other settings, locations, and experiences...her dislike of this one family...overrides her sense of right and wrong. Of course, she would never hurt them but there’s a resounding dislike despite their dog no longer even being around. Obviously, this isn’t some canine hate crime confession and it’s probably something we could’ve and should’ve trained out of her, if we didn’t find it amusing at first. However, it goes to show you how much WE still have to learn about character. Humans could learn a lot from our canine companions. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of how influential we all are on the people (or in this case: animals) we lead.
Award Winning Culture takes the time to see the good in everyone by learning their individual strengths and stories.
Sadly, we’ve never taken the time to learn our neighbor’s story. It’s kinda scary to realize how quickly and intensely Maya picked up on our slight annoyance with them. On pure nonverbals alone, Maya learned that WE don’t like THEM. In a world with ever increasing anxiety, hate, and violence and decreasing empathy, this has startling implications to education. Imagine this in our schools…
*I wonder if students know who your favorites are?
*I wonder what energy you're giving off about your
*I wonder if parents pick up on your feelings and attitude about your colleagues?
*I wonder how the lounge gossip travels around the school community?
*I wonder what unintentional signals we’re giving off as the 'pack' leader?
*I wonder how lovely our world could be if we followed the Character lead of man’s best friend?
My challenge to educators is to take a close look at your own words, actions, and feelings at school. We MUST avoid creating bias, negativity, and alienation through our unknowing influence on others. And even more importantly, we must increase our tolerance, love, and respect for others by learning their stories. Above all KINDNESS and EMPATHY WIN! Afterall, character is winning the daily battles of what you want to do vs. what you should do...
TODAY….I’M STRIVING TO BE THE PERSON... MY DOG THINKS I AM.
About the Author
Hans Appel has worked as a counselor in the Richland School District for the past 18 years and at Enterprise Middle School since it opened. He’s passionate about school culture, servant leadership, and kindness. In 2018, EMS was awarded the ASCD Whole Child Award for the State of Washington and the Global “Class Act Award” for creating a culture of excellence through kindness, service, and empathy. Recently, Hans launched his own blog about School Culture and this fall rolled out a student-led leadership podcast called Award Winning Culture: Hosted by Wildcat Nation, which can be subscribed, listened or reviewed on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, and Libsyn. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Hans on twitter @hansappel094. Follow AWC on twitter at @awculture or Instagram @awardwinningculture. Wildcat Nation at @emswildcats1 and Instagram @emscounseling #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Written By: Jennifer Appel
“I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession.”
From the time I can remember, I desperately wanted to be a teacher. Thus, when I deciding on colleges, I was focused exclusively on the schools with stellar education programs. After a pros/cons list and careful reflection, I decided on Central Washington University. While I had some struggles in college at the beginning (a blog post for another time), I was able to get into the education program and was so overjoyed to finally be on my way to realizing my dream of becoming a teacher. I always wanted to teach little ones (2nd grade was my dream) maybe willing to teach 3rd grade (Ironically, I’ve ended up spending most of my career working with middle school kids and loved every minute of it). Reading was a strong passion and I believed I had something unique to offer future students...
With this decision a new course of classes in reading came my way. In one of my early courses, I was introduced to my first professor in the reading department, Dr. Jurenka. She was a cute little older woman in her early 60’s that had been in education for years and seemed to know EVERYTHING about KIDS and READING. I was a little intimidated on the very first day of class, but also believed this is where I was supposed to be so elected to try and hide any feelings of intimidation. She was not like other professors I’d encountered; she didn’t start out with the syllabus, or lecture, she came right in and asked our college class a direct question:
“What is the most popular book for 5th grade boys?”
I was pretty sure I knew the answer, but again was a little scared to initially respond. After hearing a few other people answer, I finally got up the nerve to say, “Guiness Book of World Records”. And I was right, I remember her giving me a look, like...who are you? I think the question was meant to stump everyone in the room and then we would discuss, but that was not how it worked out.
Later in the quarter I remember, it was March 2nd, and I of course wore my Dr. Seuss shirt that day. I came into class and as it started she was beginning to talk and looked over at me and said, “Why are you wearing that shirt today?” and I told her it was Dr. Seuss’s birthday and this was considered Read Across America Day (remember this was in the 1990’s so it was just the start of this movement). She again was a little taken back by me, and not really sure what to think, as no other students in class were aware of this special Seuss remembrance.
My intimidation of her eased into respect, as I believed that Jurenka had began to understand, how serious I was about education. Then one day, we had a vocabulary lesson that we were assigned to create. I followed the directions exactly as was stated on the syllabus (I was such a compliant learner back then). I truly thought I did a great job. Several days later, my world was turned upside down as I got the assignment back and received a C on the assignment. I know a C doesn’t sound like the end of the world...but to me...in that moment...it felt like a big fat FAILURE!
Now, I didn’t get C’s EVER...maybe a B in Economics during sophomore year, but that was it. I was generally an A student and especially in a class that I thought I was excelling at and from a teacher that I thought really liked me. Naturally, I connected with Jurenka after class to ask what I could do to improve. Truth be told, I wanted an explanation of what part of the assignment I didn’t complete.
After telling me I had followed the directions exactly from the syllabus, I began to feel more confused and frustrated than ever. Why wouldn’t she have given me an A? Jurenka went on:
“No you don’t understand, you didn’t have any passion or personality in your lesson, it was just the facts, you were following a formula from the syllabus. That is not what teaching is about, you can do much better than this. I expect so much more from you.”
Initially, I was pissed off and thought she doesn’t know what she is talking about. Other students in class had received higher grades with lesser quality work. Why would she grade students differently based on the same rubric? I did exactly what I was told to do! Why was she picking on me! Am I not cut out to be a reading teacher?!
But then slowly, I started thinking about everything from another perspective. Was she right? Did I fail to put my heart and soul into the assignment. Was I simply going through the motions. In this soul searching moment of reflection, on a pizza and tears filled weekend, I realized that she was challenging me in a meaningful way! I didn’t interject any of my personality into my lesson and I certainly didn’t add any excitement or fun for the students. I treated it like it was an assignment rather than my life’s passion. I was focused on following the directions not creating a lesson that inspired curiosity, engagement, and empowerment.
Fueled by a renewed energy to prove something to my professor, I recreated the entire lesson and added my own personal touches to it. Furthermore, I added a few read alouds for the students to teach the vocabulary. When I was done with this masterpiece, it was an amazing lesson and I was thrilled to show it to my professor. She was beyond pleased with my fervor for teaching, the new lesson plan and gave me an A.
“I KNEW you could do better Jennifer,” Jurenka validated.
While the A felt satisfying, in that moment, I realized it wasn’t about the A at all, it was about me growing, learning, and striving to get better. The approval from Jurenka validated my awareness that great teaching is about pouring your soul into your lessons. Somehow she saw something inside of me that was special and in order to wake that part of me up, she elected to disrupt my learning with that uncomfortable first letter grade.
Award Winning Culture intentionally meets students where they are and individually challenges them to raise their game.
That moment stuck with me throughout my next two years in the program as Jurenka became my advisor; ultimately, helping me flourish through the education program. I am eternally grateful for Dr. Jurenka and what she taught me about reading; but moreover, what she taught me about exceptional teaching. It’s imperative to have fun and let your personality shine through. I’ll never forget that lesson and I think about her often when a lesson doesn’t work out the way I intended.
**How can we better infuse our own passion, personality, and purpose into our lessons?
**Are YOU willing to acknowledge when your operating at C quality work?
**Who gives you authentic feedback on your teaching?
**Are you willing to be honest with your peers to help elevate their classroom performance?
**How might you intentionally challenge specific students to dig deep, in order to magnify the light inside of them?
In the end...we must check our ego at the door in order to be an outstanding educator! Humility provides others the opportunity to help you uncover the great educator...you're meant to be!
Oh, the places you'll go...
About the Author
Jennifer is a teacher at Enterprise Middle School. She has been teaching for 20 years. Her passion for education comes from growing up in at education driven family and wanting to help and serve others. She is now driven to create an environment where all students are able to learn and become passionate about serving others. Jennifer can be contacted through email at email@example.com. You can follow her on twitter at @jennifermappel. Follow AWC @awculture on instagram @awardwinningculture. Follow Wildcat Nation on instagram @emsleadership. #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Written By: Hans Appel
"Asking questions is one of the best ways to grow as a human being."
As a counselor, I frequently find myself in a position of talking to students who need help; although, sometimes the help they need isn’t actually from me. Ironically, they seek my guidance or thoughts when they should be talking directly with a teacher. Maybe they’re struggling to understand a concept. Or perhaps they’re having a conflict or feeling disconnected with a teacher. Other times, they may have a desire to make a change to some aspect of their learning. While students hopefully view their counselor as a safe advocate, we often work to empower them to plug back into their own student/teacher relationships and follow-up directly with the adult who can most appropriately help them.
However, students’ avoidance of asking teachers questions makes me wonder:
Where does this inquiry based trepidation come from?
Would you like to know the most frequently uttered statement by teachers to parents during conferences: I’d really like to see him or her ask me more questions. What prevents some students from seeking help? Ok, sure, at the secondary level, and even upper elementary level there are a multitude of factors that play in with peer acceptance near the top. ‘Peers might think I’m stupid if I ask this question.’
Fair enough. Social pressures for teenagers weigh heavily and can greatly influence their willingness to seek help. Talented educators recognize the need to create a safe space where classmates can support inquiry. Yet, the reality is, there are so many opportunities to ask for teacher assistance, in quiet non-observable to other peers sorts of ways. Students can talk to teachers during work time, before/after school, lunch time, over e-mail, google classroom, or any other technology program. Some of my introverted readers might be quick to point out, that Susan Cain’s “Quiet” would remind us that personality types impact their boldness to ask questions. Yes! A student’s outgoingness absolutely affects their frequency to ask verbal questions. Although, I’m not quite as convinced that a propensity toward introvertedness precludes all online questioning. Indeed, teachers have found exceptional ways of eliciting student participation from our quieter students, through the use of technology, personal connection, and warmth.
If I hadn’t witnessed an overt discomfort to seek help by consistently ALL ranges of personality type over the last 19 years, I might have been content to conclude that peers and personality were the only driving force preventing inquiry. Rick Jetter and Rebecca Coda, authors of “Let Them Speak” so eloquently explain that if we want to know WHY kids do something, why not just ask them! So, I have...for most of my career. What keeps you from asking the teacher? While there is no denying personality and peer influence as impacts to students’ willingness to seek help fear of teacher response is clearly involved. There’s actually three categories of this fear: Witnessed, Perceived or Experienced. A major fear factor that students cite:
“I’m afraid the teacher will make me feel stupid.”
Written By: Hans Appel
“When the student is ready
the teacher will appear”
Mentorship is the guidance provided by a mentor, especially an experienced person in a company or educational institution. We typically associate mentees in schools as interns and/or practicum students. The underlying implied outcome is that the intern benefits from the mentors wisdom.
This is only part of the story. While being an effective mentor takes time, patience, and a dedicated willingness to examine one’s practices, the outcomes for the mentor are equally rich.
When I decided to take on a counseling intern, a few years ago, I had no idea that I’d grow as much or more than my intern. Thus, I’ve created a new working definition of mentorship:
Educational mentorship is a mutually beneficial endeavor that promotes growth, insight and learning for BOTH parties.
As I enjoyed breakfast last Saturday with my former intern, it dawned on me, just how educationally meaningful this experience had been for me. As Nate and I caught up on his recent attendance at a national educational conference and debriefed both last year and his plan for this next year...I realized how far both of us had come.
Having an intern forces one to take a deep dive into relooking at everything you do. With fresh, open eyes, interns can often unintentionally cast a light on outdated procedures, program, and/or policies. Their very presence initiates the kind of necessary introspection that often gets pushed to the side, in favor of mandates, routines, and requirements.
While my takeaways from my time with Nate were plentiful one has really stood out. In the spring of Nate’s 2nd year of a 3-year internship, he approached me about doing a survey of all our stakeholders. He wanted to create a way for us to gain some feedback from parents, students, and staff about our counseling program. I liked the idea and believed we were overdue to take our school’s temperature on the effectiveness of our counseling program. We spent time crafting questions, put it out to folks and then began to sift through the data.
Overall, we had very positive results! Getting a great response was very reaffirming to what we were doing. However, in one category we got absolutely destroyed. The data was very clear on this part of the survey; people did not feel we successfully communicated about our counseling program and the happenings around the school. I remember feeling a little like I’d been punched in the gut. It was as if people said to us ‘we love what your doing but we don’t always know what your doing.’ As Nate and I reviewed the results and attempted to make sense of how everything could be so positive and yet have this one giant black eye on the entire program, Nate said something profound to me.
“I think there’s a shroud of mystery that inherently surrounds counseling, ”
Written By: Hans Appel
I’ll never forget Pete. Pete was a freckle faced, tall thin young man with thick coke bottle glasses. He had buck teeth, a goofy smile, and an impish disregard for following the rules. He was completely disinterested in traditional education and took painstaking opportunities to avoid work. Prior to middle school, he had been ‘gifted’ the labels of ADHD, Tourettes, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Learning Disabled, Behavior Problem, and general pain in the butt. He had tried counseling and medications throughout elementary school with little to no success. His parents were excruciatingly demanding, critical, and combative with their son’s school system. In nearly 18 years working in education, Pete was one of the most challenging students, I have ever worked with. If I’m being honest his mere name mentioned in some teacher circles in the Richland School District (RSD) brings about grunts and groans before eventually giving way to tiny smiles. Surviving Pete and his family was a badge of honor for some educators who had their patience, commitment, and forgiveness tested on a regular basis.
My first encounter with Pete, was in the spring of his 5th grade year as his elementary school led a transition meeting to get him “all set up for success in middle school.” I distinctly remember him openly explaining to all of us (probably 10 adults in attendance) that there was “no point in middle school” because he was “going to play video games for a living.” It’s the same type of grandiose proclamations we’ve all heard: “I’m gonna play in the NFL,” “I’m gonna marry someone rich” “I’m gonna be a Youtube star.” One time, I even had someone say to me: “I don’t need school cuz I’m gonna be a drug dealer.” (I CRINGE typing that last sentence). A story for another time.
In all transparency, I NEVER thought Pete would go on to play video games for a living. Back then, I’m not even sure I knew that was a potential career path. Certainly, I wanted to believe that Pete was capable of success. However, at 13 years old, I couldn’t fathom what success might look like for him.
In his time with us, Pete struggled academically, socially, and behaviorally EVERYDAY. We tried support classes, remedial classes, and no classes. We implemented behavior plans, academic plans and 504/IEP plans. In 3 years, we probably had dozens of parent meetings, staffings, and brainstorming sessions. While I could write about some of the crazy days I had with Pete and his family (there were plenty), there’s no need to do that here. You had or currently have a Pete in your school. He or she may look or sound slightly different. Probably goes by a different name but I’m confident you recognize the at-risk signs of despair. Your team of educators have identified him or her as a kid, who you fear, for many reasons, may not make it. You worry about him or her dropping out, passing state testing, and even getting mixed up into unhealthy or unsafe choices. But beyond school, you worry about his or her ability to function in society. Will he or she be capable of forming relationships or holding down a job? There’s little doubt that your Pete, keeps you and your educational team up at night, as you theorize ideas, solutions, or options to support him or her.
Written By: Hans Appel
Are you acutely aware of the subtle sounds of the back door?
During amazing days, we seemed liked the poster family for happiness. We were solidly middle class, had a nice home, and as an only child, I was quite literally the center of my parents universe. From the outside, we looked the part of a perfect family that had it all together. There were wonderful vacations, elaborate holidays, and spectacular arrays of fun. But, there were also dark days. And in comparison, these gloomy experiences were somehow traumatically burned into cognitive dissonance in ways that were hard to put into words.
As a child, growing up in an abusive home, I found myself highly attuned to my surroundings. Frequently my house resembled the verbal equivalent of a war zone. In a house filled with anger, tears, and unease, I became talented at navigating pain and suffering in reluctantly skillful ways. For years, I mediated heated arguments before I was old enough to even enjoy a PG movie. During particularly bad evenings, I’d cry myself to sleep clutching an oversized stuffed bunny rabbit named “Jumbo”; wondering if this would finally be the last straw that would end in divorce.
Written: Jennifer Appel
-Dr. Kate Siner
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 15 years. I love every aspect of yoga and would consider myself a yogi! [YES, I’m a card carrying vegetarian who drives a bright RED Prius] Indeed, I’ve experimented with all types of yoga: Vinyasa, Hatha, Buti, Beach, and even ‘Goat’ yoga! Recently, I was sitting on my mat at the beginning of class, like I have for the past 15 years and started reflecting about how cool it would be if our students thought of themselves in the same way that yogis think of their practice...
For those who are unfamiliar with yoga, each class begins with students being asked to meditate in some way and center themselves so that you can fully experience the practice of the day. While you are in this meditative state, you are asked to set an intention for your practice. You can think of a word or saying that sets your purpose for the day. While I have done this thousands of times it finally occurred to me that this is exactly what I’m asking my students to do every day, but I am not as articulate as my wonderful insightful yoga instructors.
What if we shifted the mindset of the learning target in school, into more of an INTENTION for the day?
Written By: Hans Appel
I was fortunate to attend one of the best counselor prep programs in the northwest. Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg Washington is highly distinguished for 3 specific programs: Accounting, Teaching, and Counseling. Indeed, their counseling program is second to none, in my part of the country! Perhaps, the biggest distinction between CWU and other universities’ counseling programs is the experiential practicum that students receive in a real world clinic. While some programs are grounded in role playing, scenarios, and fake setups, CWU required me to complete nearly 2 years of individual and group counseling with actual clients. It was insanely rigourous and inordinately challenging. All 50 minute sessions were videotaped for us, our supervisor, and our student teams to review, annalyze, and critic. We spent hours transcribing words, interpreting non-verbals, and examining feelings or thoughts. If you’ve ever recorded yourself doing anything, you recognize that the camera catches everything. Frequent questions arose during viewing sessions that would make the most confident individual re-examine their future counseling path:
**Why did you cross your legs there?
**How come you leaned forward there?
**What message are you sending to the client with this greeting?
**How might you more accurately capture this person’s story?
**What transference or countertransference was observable in that clip?
As you might imagine every little component was picked over. In fact, I believe the saying ”leave no stone unturned” could have come from CWU’s clinical counseling program. It was a challenging and awesome experience and I loved everything about it! Frankly, we all knew that if we survived this program (and not everyone did) we’d be ready to flourish in the helping profession. Of all the memories, learnings, and take-aways from my time in the program, the one I continue to come back to is something I call The Tissue Lesson.
During one unforgettable review session, my supervisor (Dr. Collins) took a close look at a session I was confused by. During the session, the client and I seemed to be connecting well. We were building rapport and the she was slowly opening up. At one point, she began to cry and started to share some intense feelings. Suddenly, she stopped emoting and put up an invisible wall. It was clear that she no longer felt comfortable to explore her feelings in that moment. On video tape it became clear that she quickly clammed up and returned into her own head before moving the conversation into a different direction. As our team zeroed in on this piece of the tape, we tried to determine what might have gone wrong. Dr. Collins, an expert in human behavior and a passion for teaching future counselors made me replay a 20 second clip probably half a dozen times.
Written By: Hans Appel
A few months ago, I was asked to review Jimmy Casas and Jeffrey Zoul’s OUTSTANDING new book “Stop. Right. Now.” It’s the type of book that entices you to examine educational practices with fresh eyes. Stop. Right. Now. offers readers thirty-nine culture killers coupled with an exceptional how-to guide to avoid common pitfalls. I’d like to add #40 to the list...
In my district, secondary schools start at 7:55a.m. Many students arrive to school around 7:15-7:45a.m...with the bulk of students showing up by car, bus, or bike around 7:30. Other parts of the country operate on different daily bell schedules but the overall timeline of students arriving approximately 20-30 minutes prior to school starting seems to be fairly universal.
There are schools around the country that INTENTIONALLY lock students out of hallways in the morning until the first bell. This leaves most of the students unsupervised, unconnected, and out in the cold weather for nearly 20-30+ minutes. Some school houses do allow students into the building (usually a cafeteria or gym) but do not let them down the hallway or into classrooms until the bell rings.
Written By: Hans Appel
“Empathy is the root of humanity and the foundation that helps our children become good, caring people. But the Empathy Advantage gives them a huge edge at happiness and success”
-Dr. Michele Borba, Author of “Unselfie”
Dr. Tim Elmore, from growing leaders says that the average student today has as much anxiety as the average psychiatric patient of the 1950’s. In an increasingly anxiety ridden society it’s scary to know that Borba’s research indicates that as anxiety goes up empathy goes down. In fact, just since 2012, empathy has dropped 29% in college age students which came on the heels of a 40% drop in empathy among college students between 2000-2010. This frightening inverse relationship between anxiety and empathy makes sense; if students are more stressed, worried, and anxious about their own lives, its harder to focus on what’s going on in other’s lives.
Award Winning Culture welcomes ongoing critical examination of a school’s current educational practices, and intentionally infuses relevant Whole Child strategies into the school’s ecosystem.
It’s no surprise that empathy is a key soft skill that Whole Child focused schools are actively teaching. Thanks to programs like Character Strong, empathy is becoming a point of emphasis in the same vein as core subject areas (Math, Science, ELA, etc.) have always been. By zeroing in on empathy, kindness, and service, Character Strong’s servant leadership model of social emotional learning and character development offers a powerful and necessary #FutureDriven approach to education. Indeed, in an ever changing, unstable world filled with technology, fear, and a me-first mentality, empathy and kindness seem to be a revelatory anecdote to hate.
Our Award Winning Culture (AWC) Podcast students are some of our strongest leaders at Wildcat Nation. These students lead daily efforts in making kindness normal at Enterprise Middle School and help set the standard for positive school culture. Frankly, in 18 years of education, some of my brightest, most talented high character leaders are found in my current AWC podcast group.
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.