Esteemable Acts

Esteemable acts are experiences which give a person an increased sense of self-esteem.  I am often doing such activities in my first grade classroom.  In fact, just this past Friday, I was able to raise the self-esteem of our second graders who were in my first grade last year.

            During their first year with me, I taught them games which required critical thinking skills.  That class was full of good thinkers.  We’ve added some new students who include a few who have some learning difficulties.  The game we were playing required the students to balance various sizes of wire.

pieces on a wire stand which is leaning about 45 degrees.  The object is to hang the pieces which range in sizes from three inches to about ten inches from each other without making any pieces(s) fall down.  As it got more and more difficult, students began to dread the inevitable…one of the students with a handicap was about to have another turn.  Rather than let them fail in front of their teammates, I gave them careful instructions and encouragement as they moved their piece onto the dangling wire sculptures.  Sure enough, I was able to coach them to success.  Their teammates cheered for them and they puffed up their proud chests for all to see.  They were successful in doing a task at which they failed previously.  Now, that class holds the championship because they arranged every single piece in the game without a mishap.  Other classes must now meet their challenge.

            We require all students to take art and music in our school.  At the first grade level, this is a wonderful esteem builder.  Once I prove to children that they can do wonderful art, their esteem is so positive that we always get wonderful art creations every year.  Not only do they learn to really observe things closely, but they become aware of a wonderful world filled with patterns and masterpieces.  I love the look on their faces when people comment positively on their art works.  Music, like art, requires practice and technique.  However, once a technique is learned, new advanced creations can be developed. 

            My own self-esteem was lifted forever when I learned that Jesus Christ died for me.  That message has guided my life and activities for over sixty years. I learned that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Without that esteemable act, I might have lived a life of frustration and self-pity.  Instead, I have lived an abundant life with wonderful relationships.  No, it wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter.  I had to recognize my weakness and flaws, and then ask for God’s guidance. 

            My students experience challenge and perhaps failure…until we join together in one of these esteemable acts.  Then, I am able to guide and coach them to success.  After their confidence is built up, new risks and challenges are faced with new resolve and positive self-esteem.      


Esteemable acts is an incredibly interesting idea because so often we talk about how self-esteem issues plague our youth, but we don’t talk about how to build esteem in young people. It’s important to help our students build confidence and self-esteem through earned accomplishments. Looking back on high school, the proudest moments I had all revolve around extracurriculars and competitions.

Although competitions can be intimidating, they can help your child build confidence through accomplishing something difficult and tangible through hard work and talent. They won’t always win, but when they finally do it will feel like such an accomplishment.

Another thing I did in high school that helped build self-esteem was get involved with nonprofits. Being able to help others and give back to your community is a great way to build confidence and self-esteem. Charity can teach children a lot about their own circumstances and remind them to be thankful for all that they have. Beyond that, giving back can make your child feel proud and confident.

Investing in things that make your child happy can help build esteem as well. Validate their passions by investing time, money and effort into helping them grow in these activities. If your children show an affinity for music, help them grow by paying for lessons and attending their performances. Your support in their interests validates their dreams and will make them feel good about what they are doing with their lives.

We spend so much time worrying about low self-esteems in our children. Rather than acting retroactively, let’s be proactive about creating esteemable acts in our children’s lives. Getting ahead of this issue will allow our youth to grow up confident and happy with themselves.

Investing in things that make your child happy can help build esteem as well. Validate their passions by investing time, money and effort into helping them grow in these activities. If your child shows an affinity for music, help them grow by paying for lessons and attending their performances. Your support in their interests validates their dreams and will make them feel good about what they are doing with their lives.

We spend so much time worrying about low self-esteems in our children. Rather than acting retroactively, let’s be proactive about creating esteemable acts in our children’s lives. Getting ahead of this issue will allow our youth to grow up confident and happy with themselves.

-       Bria


  I have to admit, before yesterday I had not ever heard the term “esteemable act.” I was on a marathon driving stint to return robotics items from competition some four hours away, when an interview caught my attention. The interviewee used the term, and the proverbial “aha” light illuminated above my head! His point was that we have to do esteemable acts to gain self-esteem. That will preach.

     Are you allowing… nay, encouraging, your child to do esteemable acts? Or, are you one of growing population of parents who reward your child for expected behavior? Not sure? Let’s find out.

   You’re about to go into a department store with your children. You:

A.            Tell your children that, if they are good, you will get them a (fill in the blank) as you’re leaving.

B.            Tell your children you expect them to behave so the whole family can have fun.

C.           Watch your kids misbehave and yell at and threaten them.


    It’s report card time. Your kids made good grades because:

A.            You have offered money or prizes for good grades.

B.            You have made it clear that you believe they can do well if they apply themselves. You believe it so much that you invested in a private school.

C.           No matter what you seem to do, your kids don’t care about making good grades.


     If you chose C on either of these questions, it’s time for you to check out a book on parenting. Answer B Choosers, you are teaching your kids to do something esteemable. Therefore, your child is building self-esteem. Answer A-Choosers, while rewarding your kids for hard work is fine (everyone likes a bonus), teaching them to work FOR the reward (as opposed to “because it’s the right thing to do) is akin to training a seal with sardines. “Getting” is not an esteemable act, whether it be the trophy everyone gets or the candy reward at the end of good behavior.

    We’ve simply got to offer our kids chances to build esteem. That means they must know what is expected and choose to meet those expectations. If you’ve done a good job, you’ll be surprised how many times your kids actually surpass your expectations! I see this daily at school, so I know it works! Happy holidays!

-       Michelle


I’ve never had a more appropriate time to talk to you about endurance. Right now, I’m sitting at day three of a weekend hackathon. Although I am not hosting the event, I’m the point person for the whole weekend, which means while the organizing team takes shifts and naps, I’m here 7:00 a.m. - midnight making sure everything goes well.

Exhausted does not even begin to describe how I feel. I have done similar events that I have hosted weekend long, but there is something about working this hard on someone else’s event that can really feel like an endurance test.

There are many parts of my work and my life that are endurance tests. I spent several hours at the DMV last month getting my new Illinois license and registering my car. As I looked around at all of the other unimpressed faces, I thought about how the DMV is one gigantic shared endurance test that affects every driver in the country. For some reason that was oddly comforting to me to have the realization that everyone crammed into that tiny waiting room was having this experience together.

What my team at work does is rewarding, but overall it is an endurance test. I say that not in the same connotation as the DMV, but the amount of time, money and effort we put into this organization tests our endurance and pushes our limits constantly. Being in the startup world is a challenge in of itself, let alone trying to create a place for like-minded entrepreneurs to grow and thrive. We hosted an interesting meeting last month that was a meetup for organizers of co-working spaces. I sat in on a great deal of that meeting and was comforted to know that other people are having similar challenges. All of us work long hours and take little pay and get way too emotionally invested in our organization. This can be said of most people that own or manage a business.

In our life we will face tests of our endurance. In those moments, think of the other people that face similar challenges. You are not alone in whatever challenge you face. Someone else has stood where you stand and has made it through to the other side. Take comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone and seek out others whose endurance you admire to advise you and keep you grounded.

-       Bria

Done! I think that’s one of my favorite words in the English language. There’s just something so satisfying about finishing a huge project or event… to know you endured and “finished the race.” I write this on the heels of robotics season - ten weeks of late nights and intense deadlines.  Every year I entertain the idea of making it my last year in robotics competitions.  Then I remember how much my own kids gained from the experience, and I realize I need to make sure others’ kids get the same opportunity.  It’s a true endurance test, though, and it ends with me driving a bus load of kids home for five hours!

  Are you teaching your kids endurance? If you are, thank you so much! So often, I have to convince parents to make their children stick it out.  As soon as the going gets rough, so many parents want to throw in the towel.  So many that I had to make a school-wide policy regarding quitting.  If a child quits, he/she cannot come back to that activity for a year-and-a-half.  I added a 100-point credit score loss to the secondary kids because several had no problem with not coming back.  

  Coaches and directors and teachers have plans made and money invested based upon the numbers at the beginning of the event.  When you allow your child to quit, you not only lessen the team’s/organization’s chances of being competitive, you waste the leader’s time and money.  And most importantly, you weaken the marketability of your child.  People might accidentally hire a quitter, but they don’t keep them.

  If you are the parent of a gifted kid, your child is twice as likely to try to quit.  Gifted kids hate failing.  Sometimes quitting is a better option than learning that you aren’t that good and facing possible ridicule.  The ironic thing is that most gifted are good at a lot of things.  We use the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” when describing gifted.  Chances are that your child will actually be pretty good at whatever he’s in.  The slight chance that he might not be, though, is overwhelming.  This is easily fixed within your household:  set up a culture in which it is safe to fail.  Coddling and yelling are equally unwelcome; just a good old-fashioned evaluation of the effort given and a valid processing of whether another attempt is worth it or not is all that is needed to ease their fear of failure.  

   I think probably one of the most useful ideas that has come out of robotics competition is the engineering design process.  I love that there is no end.  Every idea and prototype can be tweaked.  New beginnings work off of old ideas, and the more you consider alternatives, the better your product.  If we applied this process to all we teach our children, rather than the memorize, regurgitate and forget method so often used, imagine what our kids could do!  

  I wish you and yours enduring love this holiday season!

-        Michelle

Endurance, today’s topic, is the power to withstand stress or hardship.  Yet, when I hear or see the word, I almost always picture a runner in a race such as the Olympics.  In fact, when I think about it, I almost never use this word in any other way.  That really is strange when I think about the actual definition of the word.

            The reason I am surprised is that endurance is really a big part of my life.  Each year of teaching brings another group of students and parents into my life with different expectations, standards and discipline ideas.  I always find it interesting and a challenge trying to get all our differences to mesh as we seek to educate the child.  Thus, school often becomes an endurance test.  Can we all survive the ten months of school without a major upset?!  Usually, we all do survive, and the child meets the standards set before us.  We celebrate with awards and promotion to the next level of learning.

            However, once in a while, we get a certain student who puts teachers through a stressful endurance test.  Most often, these students have mastered the art of manipulation and are carefully pitting parent against teacher, etc.  It takes a great deal of courage, inner strength, and determination to endure such a relationship.  I have been through several of these situations during my career.  Even though success may have been the outcome, the energy required to endure the task ultimately takes a toll on the person…I speak from experience.  Perhaps the reason for this is that an investment is being made by the teacher in the life of that student.

            I think one reason for struggles and problems in many of our nation’s schools is that teachers are living an endurance test.  School board members and administrators often distance themselves from the stress and hardships of the classroom.  I know for a fact that many college professors teach their students about educating without having the actual classroom experience themselves.  Thus, teachers enter classrooms without adequate preparation in classroom management.  This is like throwing the person in a hungry lions’ den.  Students find safety in numbers as well as partners in their manipulations.

            As I have stated before, I learned simultaneously in the classroom and the college lab.  I could understand the needs of my classroom and ask the professors for on-the-job help and suggestions.  It certainly made me a better teacher.  I took that experience and made myself teach in the classroom as well as administrate.  I put myself on the firing line, so to speak.  I made mistakes, faced seemingly impossible goals, and took the hits as well as the praises from parents and students.  I did not hide out in the office.

            Just this past Friday, I saw once again why endurance is necessary and in the long run, why it is also a blessing.  As my students and I compared their work of the day with some from the beginning of the school year, we were amazed at the levels of accomplishment!  Wow! Yes, some had a little more to accomplish than others, but everyone was better than when he/she started the year.  So, one mountain has been scaled, and now we move on to the next summit!  Thanks to a Thanksgiving break, I think I am ready for the pre-holiday chaos that teachers know too well!  That’s endurance.    

-       Kay


            Appreciation is what I feel during this Thanksgiving season.  It only takes one day of giving thanks to make me aware of the countless blessings I have received.  In the spirit of giving thanks, I sat down and read my prayer journal from the years of 2007 through 2010.  I was amazed at how many of my prayers were answered with added blessings I hadn’t even petitioned God about. 

            Throughout those prayerful writings I recorded my gratitude for my son-in-law’s safe return from one military deployment after another.  I recorded evidence of God’s promise to those who are trusting in Him: “All things work together for good to those who love God and are fitting into His plans.”  Some of the most challenging experiences of my career occurred during that time period, but God wove a tapestry of blessings out of them all.

            I realized how quickly time passes by us all.  Those years seem like a few months ago.  Now, I am more determined than ever to spend precious moments with my loved ones…family and friends.  I am committed to making an extra effort in relationship and memory-building activities.  This calls for more effort on my part to use my “working time” more efficiently.  As I’ve heard many times from my pastor, no one ever said when at death’s door, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” 

            This past week as our family spent celebrating Thanksgiving in two cabins deep in the woods of the Ozarks, I had plenty of reflection time.  I had time to review the life of my cousin’s husband who passed away the previous week, and to be thankful for the lessons his well-lived life taught others.  I had time to breathe fresh air, watch for wildlife, listen to the wind in the pine trees, and enjoy the display of stars in a pitch-black night free of the encroachment of city night lights.  The final evening bonfire which included roasting marshmallows stirred memories of long forgotten “simpler times.”

            I am especially feeling appreciation for my daughter’s ability to help our busy family make the time to enjoy these special times.  I see in our grandchildren that same spirit of “family” being groomed and nurtured for introduction to their offspring in the future.  And, I pause…bow my head…and say, “Thank you God for all these blessings!  Thank you for letting me be born in the United States where I am free to have such wonderful experiences.”        

-       Kay

This is the time of year that we reflect on what we are thankful for. Beyond what we are thankful for, it is important to acknowledge what we appreciate. I’m thankful for my job, my education, my apartment and my car, but more than anything, I appreciate my family who gave me all of these things.

My parents are the most supportive people in my life. They never let anything limit my dreams. This value has carried me far in life and taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to. I have done a lot in my short life already. I look at the people around me that have not been given the same opportunities as me, and all I can do is realize that I have been incredibly blessed.

My family is the greatest family in the world. We have our problems and sometimes we fight, but at the end of the day, we support each other. My parents are endlessly giving and forgiving. Whatever I do in my life, they support me 110%. They have given me so much, and continue to give even when it means they will have less. I will forever be indebted to them for everything they have done for me.

Think of these people in your lives. Maybe for you, it isn’t your parents. Maybe it’s a significant other or a best friend. Take the time to tell these people that you love them and appreciate them and remember to never take them for granted. Mom and Dad, thank you for always having my back and pushing me to follow my dreams. I love and appreciate you both so much.

-       Bria

I’m not sure the appreciation I feel for the last week was exactly what our forefathers intended, but I am so very thankful for the week I just spent with family.  We gathered in the backwoods of a Missouri resort and enjoyed good food, fellowship, and absolutely no phone or internet service!  To play on last week’s theme, “unplugging” was sheer delight!

   As we enter the time of year that students seem to be least appreciative, I want to take the time to encourage you to teach your children appreciation.  I love to hear a young mother admonish a toddler to say “thank you” before the child can even speak.  It is amazing to me the number of teens and young adults who do not thank me for holding a door for them or giving them the right-of-way.  I worry that I am going to get decked or shot for my reaction when they don’t show appreciation. (I usually say something loudly like, “Oh thank you, kind lady” or “You’re welcome, Ingrate.”)

   More disturbing than the absence of everyday manners, though, is the lack of appreciation so many students have for the things their parents buy them.  I know, you and I were kids once, and we drug the toes of our shoes and put holes in our pants knees and disassembled some of our toys.  I see much more disturbing instances nowadays.  I have had multiple students lose or break very expensive phones.  Two days later, they have new ones!  What’s disturbing is not that kids lose or break phones; it’s that they have very expensive phones… at as early an age as seven.  

    Kids have bragged to me that they have a TV, a computer, and a gaming system in their rooms.  I have been known to reply, “Wow!  If your parents put a refrigerator and a microwave in there, they’d never have to see you!”

    Parents, your children will take stuff as long as you will give it.  That stuff is no replacement for time with them, though.  There will come a day when those things you buy don’t impress anymore.  

    While teaching your children to appreciate what you provide for them, please don’t forget to appreciate the role you’ve been given as parent.  My kids are 27 and 22, and they are still two of my favorite people in the world.  I appreciate getting to talk to them and spend time with them and watch them grow and know that I am loved by them as much as I love them.  

   Happy “appreciation” season!

-       Michelle


“Unplugging” is certainly a timely topic today.  In fact, I’ve used that term several times this past week.  When I found two boys in a conflict which didn’t seem to be finding resolution, I joined them to share some very good advice my husband gave me to use.  I explained that the student who was “needling” the other boy was exercising great control over his victim.  He found himself energized as tears ran down the cheeks of the victim.  I then told him that he was being like a leech that sucks and drains the life blood of its victim.  He didn’t like the comparison.

            To the victim in the situation, I explained that he had let the tormenter wire his forehead with invisible antenna through which he could control the emotions of his victim.  I said it was possible to just reach up and “unplug” the wire.  Once that act was completed, the tormenter was powerless to bother him as before.  He could then just walk away.  This incident was like many I have observed and mediated in the past…the victim walked away and was fine…once he unplugged the antenna.

            I grew up in a time when these situations were handled by repeating a verse my parents gave me: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names and faces can’t hurt me.”  Yes, I realize that since my childhood things are different now.  Parents are very protective of their children’s emotional state of mind.  However, I don’t see today’s children able to handle these situations as easily as my generation did.  In fact, by protecting them from negative words, opinions, etc., we seem to have made them much weaker emotionally.

            The second way I have been impacted by the term unplugged is in the practice of people to extend the life of their loved ones by hooking them to machines for the last weeks of their physical life.  I’ve just returned from the funeral of my cousin’s husband.  He had been such a vibrant and active man all of his life.  He has been in a dementia unit with a rare form of Alzheimer’s for over a year. In a way, his death was a relief.  To see him hospital-bound was hard for family.  But I am proud that he was allowed to die without the mechanized life-saving measures many people insist upon with their loved ones.  As my husband points out, it not only takes away the dignity of the individual, but it runs family finances into near ruin.  Instead, the last moments of this life were spent with his family, and he looked up toward Heaven, reached out and smiled before he laid down his head and went home to God.  He was at peace.  A few years ago, my aunt had grown tired of the tubes, etc. and asked the family to sing “Amazing Grace” for her; for my brother-in-law to recite the 23rd Psalm; and then for the doctor to unplug her from the life-support machines.  She died gracefully and peacefully.

            At this moment, I am looking at a stack of papers that need grading.  However, I am going to unplug myself from school-mode and enter Thanksgiving mode.  I am going to enjoy the one thing that makes life worthwhile…my family and our relationships with one another.  

-       Kay

“Unplugging” is something that is going to become increasingly difficult to do as we become a more connected world. The place I work gives me the opportunity to see and experience cutting edge connected devices. IoT, connected homes and smart assistants are becoming more and more common and the future will see even more of this type of technology.

In many ways this innovative technology brings with it a lot of exciting capabilities. The problem with the increase in smart devices is that it is much harder to unplug. Unplugging from time to time is important for our mental health, personal relationships and ability to take a break. For me, I see unplugging in two categories: unplugging as a social/gaming addict, and unplugging as a workaholic. In general, you can apply these categories to different age groups, but there are exceptions.

For kids, and younger people it is easy to become obsessed with technology whether it be gaming, social media or binge-watching television on streaming services. Between your phone, your tablet and your laptop (assuming most kids have at least two out of three), it is hard to put the technology away. Even when we manage to set the phone down, notifications pull us back in.

There is a similar issue with people who cannot leave their work at work. Many of us have our work emails connected to our personal phones and computers. This means that even after we leave the office, we will still receive email notifications to our phones. This makes it incredibly difficult to unplug because we can get pulled right back into work with just one email notification.

Both of these examples are incredibly common and contribute to a lot of larger issues in our lives. It’s important to find ways to unplug and invest in your personal relationships in the real world. This is the time of year where we come together and celebrate with our family. Take the time this holiday season to unplug and invest time with your family face to face.


-       Bria

 This last Wednesday evening, AT&T lost coverage of about a third of the country, including the Oklahoma and Illinois areas. Bria and I tried repeatedly to call each other, texting back and forth our frustrations with dropped calls. Since I was passing an AT&T store on my way to choir, I texted that I would stop to see if there was a problem with our account. The place was swarming with people with the same idea. About that time, Bria sent the outage map, and I shared the info with all who would listen.

    I eventually figured out a back door (turn airplane mode on for thirty seconds and then off to make calls), and Bria and I were able to successfully share the worries and triumphs of the day!

    You’d think we didn’t talk every day. If we were that disturbed by the breakdown of our communication channels, I can just imagine what those who urgently needed phone communication must have felt.

     This week my family will willingly unplug ourselves (somewhat) from technology by traveling to an isolated resort in the Ozark hills for Thanksgiving. I’m actually looking forward to the unplugging… mostly because I’m authoring what’s “unplugged.”

     Therein lies my thought for this week. “Plugging in” implies a choice on our parts.  When I was a kid, we did things just for the pure joy of it.  Kids today have pressure even in the activities they enjoy.  

    Wanna play soccer?  You need to be on a traveling team and give up all your evenings and weekends.  I mean, don’t you want to be a professional athlete?  Then you gotta work!

    Heck, kids even have pressure on their video games.  Until recently, I’ve been playing Candy Crush fairly anonymously.  Somehow my phone linked Candy Crush to my husband’s Facebook account.  Now I know how I have done at each level compared to all of our friends who play.  Talk about pressure.  If I know, then I’m sure they know, right?!  

.    As our children become increasingly “plugged in” to real life, it is important that you teach your child how to “unplug.” Daily your child should have at least thirty minutes of activity that is in no way dependent upon technology or a deadline or practice. Everybody needs something they do just for the joy of doing.  Even just sitting down and talking would be great. I think that’s why Bria and I were so desperate to talk. Even though we have to do it via technology due to distance, our “hashing out the day” is our unplugging activity.

     Here’s hoping you have a Thanksgiving full of unplugged activities… on your terms, of course!!



   To honor someone is to hold him/her in high esteem. This weekend our nation “honored” veterans. I am married to a veteran; we had ceremonies for Veterans Day throughout his military career. Now that he’s retired, I have to admit that the holiday has lost some of its ceremony. One of our young students this week couldn’t understand why we would need a holiday for soldiers. By the end of a video that age-appropriately explained “why,” there were many kids crying. I think those tears are the definition of “honor.”

    Are you familiar with the term sweat equity?  Sweat equity is a person’s contribution to a project in the form of effort and toil.  Soldiers certainly have “sweat equity” in our nation.  Anyone willing to give long hours (sometimes in the form of a year-long deployment), hard work, and possibly his own life for a project (in this case, a nation) deserves to be honored.

   To honor something is to fulfill it - as in a commitment, obligation or agreement. My husband is honorable because, when he makes a commitment, he keeps it. He and I have vowed to stay married till death. There have been tough times, but God offers healing that helps us honor our commitment.

  Honor can also be a noun, though.  An honor is a special distinction for bravery, achievement, or respect.  The Medal of Honor is our nation’s greatest military award.  It is awarded to service members who distinguish themselves by acts of valor, which means strength of mind or spirit that enables them to encounter danger with firmness.  

   How does one learn this bravery?  The short answer is that it must be taught.  I encourage you not to shield your children from the truth of what soldiers do.  Veterans Day may be over for another year, but veterans themselves are everywhere.  Get your children involved with the people who gave them their freedoms.  You could take a Sunday once a month to go visit veterans at the VA Center nearest you.  The very least you should do is make your children aware of the history of our country… of the sacrifices that were made by honorable men and women to give them the lifestyle they so enjoy. Honor their sacrifices by making sure your children know about them.

-          Michelle

                Honor is another one of those words that can be a noun or a verb.  In retrospect, I think I see more usage of this word in the noun form than I do in the latter.  For example, almost every organization gives some award of honor to its members.  Sports groups have especially overused this award by giving every participant a trophy or medal regardless of team outcomes, standings , etc.  I am not trying to be the Grinch who steals Christmas, but I am reacting to the speeches I hear students make to one another: “Don’t worry.  You’ll get a trophy (medal) anyway.”

                I would much rather see students and people in general practice the verb of honoring.  Start with the commandment from God, “Honor your mother and father that your days may be long.”  It is the first commandment with a promise.  The U.S.A. is definitely behind the curve among nations of the world in honoring our elders.  When I show a film of family life in other countries, my students always react to the difference in cultural treatment of the elders.  They can’t imagine letting grandparents and parents eat before they partake in the meal.  Most love visiting with grandparents, but can’t imagine having their grandparents live with them and then being given the place of distinction.

                I am alarmed by the rewriting of our national history.  History is what it is…the past is done and gone.  However, removing all distasteful aspects of it does not show honor.  I heard one woman from the deep south make the following remark upon being told another statue or school’s name was being taken down: “How many times must we lose this war?”  As she lamented, the war is over.  Nothing can erase what was done.  However, the same monuments and nameplates can serve as reminders that will never allow us to forget.  As humans, when we forget bad happenings, we often have to relive them to understand once again the terrible lessons our forefathers lived to regret.

                Today we see people taking sides about honoring our American flag.  I am in the ranks of those who teach our students to say the pledge and salute the flag.  I see it as the perfect time to get them to pause from all the noise, video, technology, and worries of each day and think about people who gave their lives for the continuation of our American way of life…which is summed up in the word “liberty.”

We are the beneficiaries of freedom bought with life blood.  It is only fitting that we should honor those who valiantly gave their lives to help save ours.  In this age of political correctness, we should be more aware than ever that “lest we forget” should be our theme.  Even my own church forgot to honor our veterans today.  This was a first for as long as I can remember.  In closing, I pledge to do all I can to teach my students and to practice myself the art of “honoring.”     

-          Kay

In light of recent events, the word honor has come up in our news cycle a lot this year. Unfortunately, a lot of the usage of this word has been in regard to victims of fatal shootings that have characterized 2017 in the United States. People come together to honor the memory of victims and to honor their families. Memorials honor their memory. Unfortunately, the honor is all retroactive. We have no precautionary implementations that could keep this from happening; instead, we honor victims post-mortem.

Today is a day set aside to honor the brave men and women that defend our country. All around the country there are parades, services and events regarding our Armed Forces. The word honor will take on a different meaning today than most other days. It is a word that will not only describe the dead, but also the living who are willing to risk their own lives for our safety. These people will be honored today using the primary definition of the word. The rest of us fall into the secondary definition of the word: having the honor of living in the free country.

This sentiment is not talked about nearly enough. With the current state of the country and its leadership, it is easy to believe that we are unfortunate. The truth is, anyone in this country is privileged and lucky to live here. Those who we honor today fight for our right to remain a free and democratic society. It is our honor to be allowed the freedom and opportunities we have in this country.

The United States is not perfect; there are a lot of problems. As we learn to deal with our demons, we will honor those who have lost their lives, those who fight for our rights -  and we will continue to understand the honor it is to live in this great country.

-          Bria


Confrontation is for some people like an energy drink, giving them the drive to make even the smallest mole hill a mountain.  For me, the opposite is true: after a confrontation, I feel drained and exhausted wishing to never repeat such an experience again.

            No matter which side of the coin one may find himself, confrontation is always a very emotional experience.  I am one of those people who play “what if” and “he will say…then I will say” mind tapes over again and again the night before.  Typically, the confrontation is never as bad as it seemed during my mind-rehearsal all through the night.  It always ends with some sort of resolution, right or wrong, depending upon whose viewpoint.

            As I have grown older, I have found that confrontation is better than ignoring a situation in hopes that it will go away.  In fact, people often find out that the perplexing situation exists only in one mind, and the other party is totally oblivious.  For that reason alone, I have learned to just go ahead and acknowledge the white elephant in the room. 

            My husband learned over time that it was never good to confront a problem until the persons involved had a chance to get emotions under control.  Thus, he always said, “Kay, I have an issue which we need to discuss.  I’m too upset now, so let’s make an appointment to talk this afternoon.”  This has been much better than both of us justifying our positions in emotional voices.  The cooling off period helps get thoughts together.

            During my career, I also made it a habit to NEVER talk about a problem over the phone.  Body language is an important ingredient in communication.  Phone conversations leave that element out.  I am straightforward in any issue…I don’t beat around the bush.  As an administrator, I would always call everyone involved in a situation to sit in together to discuss it.  That way, there could be no “she said” or “he said” without verification by the person who was also present.  However, I once had a staff member who, when she was confronted within the group meeting, would plead, “I just can’t remember what I said.”  Like President Reagan, it was hard to get past that stalemate.  I often wondered if she found herself suffering dementia as she grew older.  I do know that the immediate effect was that she lost people’s confidence in her word.

            Report card grades often bring confrontation to a school.  The best way to prevent a   confrontation is to keep the lines of communication open and flowing between student, parent and teacher.  It is impossible to adequately fix a student’s problem if he/she is not present and included in the meeting set to address the problem.       

-                                                                      Kay

I know we say that there are people who love confrontation, but I don’t really believe that. I believe that there are people who love to argue and to boss to demand their way, but when it comes to attending to a difficult situation – especially one in which someone has messed up, I think even the most argumentative would rather not do it. See, the key difference between confronting and just arguing is the intent.  People who love to argue want only one thing:  you to see that they are right.  But a confrontation carries the intent of solving the problem.  Let’s look at a few scenarios.

    You are mad at a workmate because she took forever at the copier, and you were in a hurry.  So, you told everyone but her how you were inconvenienced.  She confronts you to explain that what she was doing has importance to her, and she’d really appreciate if you didn’t belittle her work.  Ouch!

    You’ve been friends with this couple for years.  Now, having been married for almost twenty years, he tends to put her down in front of all of you.  So, you confront him and ask him to leave those issues at home, as it makes everyone there uncomfortable.  Not a fun task!

     One more, in cleaning your child’s room, you find something you do not want to find.  You simply have to find out more because of the danger it could pose to your child, but you know a confrontation is going to result in yelling, lying, and accusations.  Nevertheless…

     Have I made my point yet that confrontations are not desirable activities?  We cannot avoid them, though.  In my early career, I dreaded the words, “My mom wants a conference.”  We teachers never get to prepare for a conference the way the parents does when all we know is that the parent wants one!  I guess that’s a two-way road.  Anyway… I would spend all night going through all the events of the past two weeks, trying to find some way in which I had offended or slighted this kid.  Often times, the conference would be to ask for more math help.  Worry wasted!  There were times, though, that I knew exactly what I’d done, and I knew I should have been the one to call for the conference.  I feared owning my problems, though.  I feared the confrontation.  It’s only in my later years that I have come to embrace the conference.  Confrontation is going to happen; let’s get on with it.  If I let it wait till tomorrow, the conflict my mind dreams up will keep me awake all night. 

     Would you be surprised to know that the more I embrace the conferences that might lead to confrontation, the less confrontations I actually have.  Nothing diffuses the situation as quickly as ownership of what I know I did wrong!

     I guess what I want to say to you today is to teach your children that sometimes people call you on your bluffs.  That’s okay.  If everybody likes what you’re doing 100% of the time, you’re not making much of a difference.  Confrontations are most likely when you’re not doing things “like we always do.” So, let your child know that, with change, comes conflict.  And conflict can cause people to do things for which they need to be confronted.  Whether your child is the confronter or the one being confronted, the growth experienced from working through the issue is invaluable.  We should never shrink from an opportunity to grow!


-          Michelle

Confrontation is something I hate more than most things. I have a heightened sense of what others think of me and I need to be liked by people I come in contact with on a daily basis. At work, we have 300+ members that use our co-working space as an office. On any given there are 100 people at a time in our facilities. With this, we have regulars that are there every day, and less frequent users that come in a few times a week.

I pride myself in knowing the names and company ideas of a majority of the people that work out of our space daily. I ask about their businesses and their families and call many of them a friend of mine. This is great for customer retention, but it can make for a very difficult situation when a member crosses a line or breaks a rule.

As many of you know, I run all of the events in our space. For members, room fees are significantly less than they would be the general public. This comes with the notion that they will be responsible for the event and for returning the space in the condition in which they found it. For the most part, members respect this policy, but when they don’t they do it in a large way. Typically, in the situation my staff ends up doing hours of cleanup and I charge a clean-up fee to the member.

This last week I had to implement a cleaning fee to a member that is generally very nice. This is literally my nightmare scenario. I spent two days concocting my email notice making it sound professional, yet sympathetic. I had several of my colleagues look over it and they all agreed it was foolproof. Well, apparently, it wasn’t because I received an email back saying that the member planned to dispute the charges. My manager advised me to send an email further laying out why we decided to charge this fee and then to go ahead and charge his card. I literally contemplated taking the next day off to avoid this person after sending the email. I spent all night worrying that this person would hate me and that he would convince other members to hate me, a guess what happened. Nothing. The charge was processed. We both came into work the next day. No words were exchanged. He didn’t tell anyone about how terrible I am, and he didn’t confront me in person.

The fear around confrontation is mostly associated with the story we create in our own head. We play through the scenarios and expect the worst when the outcome does not always match our expectations. Remember this when you are facing confrontation in your lift. It is a necessary evil that you will face many times in your life. Be careful not to build the story up in your head and create anxiety around a reaction that hasn’t happened yet. When confrontation arises, stand your ground, remain respectful and understand when you need to walk away. Remember that it will not always come to this, but be prepared for the situation when confrontation arises.

-                                              Bria


   Anybody out there old enough to remember chicken pox parties? When I was a young mother with a five-year old and a six-month old, both with the chicken pox, I was somewhat bewildered when other mothers asked to bring their kids over to expose them to the chicken pox and get it over with. Imagine my surprise to find out people actually had parties just for this reason! Not that kids get chicken pox anymore, but could you imagine that happening today?

   There is definitely a different mindset in this generation of parents compared to mine. When complaining of a leg pain or a friend saying something mean, my pat answer to my kids was, “Life’s hard. Get a helmet.” Okay… not all the time… but I certainly did not lead my kids to believe that they were allergic to mosquitoes, that playing outside was dangerous, and that they should never expect to have mean things said to them.  

  As I write this, I am just home from a weekend of robotics competition with my students. I had 18 middle and high schoolers and one other adult (to help transport kids), and they really did a good job with hotel behavior and being where they were supposed to be on time. What they didn’t know surprised me, though: they didn’t know to take a clean plate up to revisit the buffet bar or how to open the bus door or any of the iconic rock songs the event DJ was playing. Okay, that last one isn’t necessary!

   Every time I take kids on trips, I find how little some of these kids know about the real world. The reasons are diverse. Many are too busy with extra-curricular activities to have a chance to experience “real life.” Some have been taught to fear things outside of the home, but some are just too into playing video games to go out. Newsflash:  the risk of exposure to undesirable elements they face online is exponentially greater than any risk they take playing outside!

   The lesson for parents here is: expose your child to the right kinds of things often. To allow the video game or phone to occupy a large amount of your kid’s time is to risk exposure to mean people, inappropriate content, and possibly even exposure of your private family information.

   I’m encouraging you to teach your children how to do the laundry and how to cook three or four meals. Take them on public transportation, and show them how to tip waiters and taxi drivers and such. Show them how to make a call on a land phone, and discuss current events with them. And, for Pete’s sake, teach them their address and phone number! I have high schoolers who don’t know that information! I know sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself, but by doing so, you are crippling your child for the demands of adulthood.

  If you are already preparing your children to one day leave the nest, kudos to you! You’re making your child more marketable for college and for a job. We live in a world that increasingly demands less and less of its students and more and more of its workers. You are helping to ensure that your child will stay in college and keep that job.

-          Michelle

Exposure usually has negative connotations for me.  I think of the time I wound up in a hospital during my college days for third degree sunburn caused by falling asleep while sunbathing in the Oklahoma sun.  That lesson was learned quickly.  There were other experiences that taught me to monitor exposure to harsh wind chills, rip-currents, and falling chiggers from wet Missouri tree branches in the Ozarks. 

            I had to stop and reconsider the positive aspects of this topic when I was given it.  Yes, as an educator, I do expose students to as many experiences as I can possibly conceive and afford.  I know that especially for gifted students, such exposure is usually necessary for them to try anything new and different.  However, once they have had a safe introduction to a brand new area of life, the creative juices usually start flowing and many successful experiences follow for them.

            On the other hand, I have to remind myself of that same experience I’m providing them, and I must be game for them to give me exposure to things from their modern world!  This is especially true for technology.  It will absolutely make my first graders happy when they see me go to my phone to look up information instead of grabbing the encyclopedia!

            But there are still things I regret seeing my students exposed to everyday.  I hate four letter messages on cars…my beginning readers are always trying to read signs… Ditto for shameless t-shirts worn by people who should know better!  I hate the exposure TV ads give to everyone about every kind of sexual aid and bodily disfunction on planet Earth.  Yes, I know I can just reach over and turn them off.  However, my students do not usually have control of the TV remote…so garbage in and then garbage out as the old saying goes.  In the meantime, I just keep talking to my young students about the fact that it takes so little to be above average in our world.  Then I encourage them to choose the higher ground and better path to travel throughout life.  

-          Kay