education, kindness, REBkind, travel

Texas Kindness: Kids Deserve It

The second stop of my kindness tour with Barbara Gruener was visiting Webb Elementary School to meet principal, Todd Nesloney, author of Stories from Webb and co-author of Kids Deserve It and Sparks in the Dark.

I met Todd in 2014 when we both presented Ignite sessions for the ISTE Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. In fact, it was his presentation about Genius Hour that sparked my passion project collaborations with teachers in my school! It was a delight to see him again and thank him for the positive impact he’s had on my teaching journey.

Webb Elementary in Navasota, Texas is another “must-see” school. We were delighted to receive a tour by a fifth grade student named Eli, whose smile could light up the darkest room. We began our tour in the office where a massive Lego wall spanned more than half the wall. Barbara snapped a photo of Eli and I adding a few creations of our own to the wall.

Eli proudly explained the meanings behind their “House Families” and patiently watched as Barbara and I took dozens of photos. We learned that families include students from every grade level and they remain in these families for the entire year with school-wide challenges at regular intervals.

As we were admiring the giant wall paintings, several kindergarten students passed by and excitedly announced that their family had won the latest challenge and they were chosen to go on a field trip together! The pride they had in sharing this reward with us was precious!

Love in many languages.
One of their family emblems hand-painted on the wall.
Each family emblem and name is displayed at the front of the school.

As we continued our tour, we saw many Disney references, the chosen theme for this school year. We also admired their “I Am” mirror wall (I couldn’t resist looking into the ‘kind’ mirror!)

“I am Enough.”
“I am Kind.”

I love the way Webb Elementary makes use of each nook and cranny to make school an inviting place to be. A corner reading nook caught my eye as did the colorful canvases displayed throughout the building. I especially loved the family canvases shown at each teacher’s door, spotlighting personal families, too.

Random Reading Spot with canvases on walls.
Canvases of teachers and their families outside of each classroom door.

At the conclusion of our tour, we met back with Todd and spun the color wheel to determine which family we would join. It was a joy to get a sneak peek at Webb Elementary and learn more about their school culture!

A special thanks to Barbara Gruener who volunteered to drive the distance to Navasota and back. We were able to enjoy the Bluebonnet wildflowers along the way and geared up for our next stop: meeting Jet Stream Jax who inspired our Kindness initiatives in the Fall of 2017!

More Texas fun to come in my next post! Stay tuned!


In March, I traveled to Houston, Texas as part of my R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence, the first of several trips I will complete this year and next. My proposal, “Cultivating Kindness for Global Impact” takes me to various locations in the United States and Canada to dive into learning opportunities that align with my passion for kindness. One of the perks of these trips is meeting Kindness Cultivators, many of whom I spotlight in my book, A Passion for Kindness: Making the World a Better Place to Lead, Love, and Learn. This week and next I will be sharing stories from my journey so you can “travel” with me, too!

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education, kindness, REBkind, travel

Texas Kindness: Kind Kids


On my first #REBkind trip, I visited Houston, Texas and neighboring locations to meet kindness cultivators and learn more about character education. I was blessed beyond measure by the hospitality of Barbara Gruener (@BarbaraGruener), author of What’s Under Your Cape: SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. She not only opened her home to me as a warm, welcoming bed-and-breakfast, she offered to drive me around town to meet others and take in the local sights around Friendswood, Texas. Although I was in town for less than three days, we made the most of every moment!

*Fun Fact for you: Friendswood began as a colony created in 1895 by two Quakers, Frank Jacob Brown and Thomas Hadley Lewis, “to establish a community dedicated to God.” (The term “Quakers” and “Friends” are often used interchangeably.) Almost one hundred years later, I would be married in a Friends church in my hometown! What a delightful connection to discover!*

Our first stop on this kindness adventure was teaching a kindness class! Barbara had already arranged to teach a lesson with Wendy Hankins (@MrsHankinsClass), but unbeknownst to Wendy, I was joining in the fun, too!

At Kirk Elementary School, they have a school-wide genius hour where students get to follow their passions and join a mixed-age group for a themed lesson. Wendy and her coworker, Christine Owings (@MrsOwingsClass), host a kindness club called Kind Kids (@KindKidsAtKirk) and Friday was their first lesson with a new group. It was perfect timing for a surprise visit!

I wish we had taken a photo of Wendy’s face when she came through the door and saw us sitting in her school’s office! It was the first time we had ever met, but we hugged as if we were long-lost friends!

After introductions, we made our way back to her class and Barbara and I blessed Wendy with a copy of both of our books. We took a few photos, then watched as Wendy welcomed her students to class, listening to sounds of “Limbo” playing through the laptop. We even had a chance to check out the students’ stellar dancing skills, too!

When students switched to their Genius Hour groups, our “class” had expanded to nearly 40 students! WOW! I read one of my favorite kindness stories, “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed” by Emily Pearson, then Barbara and I shared our personal experiences with kindness, specifically how one ordinary deed could make a monumental impact on someone else’s life.

We discussed the hurricane that came through their area last school year and showcased Barbara’s student Jet Stream Jax (both of whom are spotlighted in Chapter 3 of A Passion for Kindness.) We showed them Jax’s Kind Coins video and talked about kindness rocks, kindness shirts, and how we can all become kindness cultivators, too.

Wendy showed them where their Kindness Club was mentioned in my book  (p. 113) and Barbara led a visualization activity so students could see the ripple effect of kindness over the course of one month. The students were excited to start sharing kindness with the world!

Following the kindness lesson, as students switched back to other classrooms, Wendy showed us the Kindness Quilt displayed in their school’s hallways that students had made last semester. (Could you tell it was created with 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper? So quick and easy!) Before we left, I gave Wendy a few things for her students as little reminders that every act of kindness matters.

Barbara and I were filled with such joy from our visit with Wendy, Christine, and the kind students of Kirk Elementary! It was a wonderful way to start our morning of kindness!


In March, I traveled to Houston, Texas as part of my R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence, the first of several trips I will complete this year and next. My proposal, “Cultivating Kindness for Global Impact” takes me to various locations in the United States and Canada to dive into learning opportunities that align with my passion for kindness. One of the perks of these trips is meeting Kindness Cultivators, many of whom I spotlight in my book, A Passion for Kindness: Making the World a Better Place to Lead, Love, and Learn. This week and next I will be sharing stories from my journey so you can “travel” with me, too!

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kindness

April Fools’ Kindness

It’s the first day of April and you know what that means – a day filled with jokes, pranks, and “Gotcha!” moments left and right. For us, it’s the first day of Spring Break and it’s a Monday, so I decided to do something fun just because I could. It’s also the week that many of our students are performing their Kindness Passion Project RAKs, so I wanted to share in the joy, too!I

Inspired by Laurie McIntosh’s recent RAK of giving flowers to drive-through workers, I decided to bring someone flowers, too. I wasn’t quite sure who I wanted to bless, but I figured it would hit me as I went about my day.

As I added my final items to my shopping list (including flowers!), I grabbed the stack of books I needed to mail out and put them in my travel box to bring to the post office. As I was putting them in my car, it suddenly hit me – I should bless the postal workers with flowers!


I went to the post office first as it sometimes takes a while to mail out packages and I wanted to see how many people were working at the registers today. I saw two ladies and knew they would be the perfect recipients.

Next, I headed to my favorite Kroger grocery store and saw these beautifully bright flowers that caught my eye. I grabbed all the groceries on my list, carefully added the flowers to my cart, made my purchases, then walked back to my car.

Standing outside the post office, I decided to make a live video to post on Instagram. (This is a stretch for me because live videos are a wee bit outside my comfort zone. This may shock a few of you because I love to talk and love technology!) As I was fumbling with the phone and the flowers, a kind lady came up to me and asked if I needed some help taking my photo (she thought I was trying to take a selfie!) I graciously thanked her, then explained I was getting ready to take a video instead. She laughed and continued inside the post office.

After explaining my RAK to those on Instagram, I went inside the post office and waited in line again, this time absolutely giddy with anticipation. After all, how many people walk into a post office with flowers in their hands?

When it was my turn to approach the counter, I handed the clerk my bouquet. “Today is April Fools’ Day, which means lots of tricks and pranks. I thought it would be fun to do something GOOD instead, so I’m blessing you with flowers to say ‘Thank You’ for all you do!”

Oh my goodness! I wish you could have seen her reaction! It was priceless! She put her hand to her heart, the shock apparent on her face, as this beautiful smile spread from cheek to cheek.

“For ME? That is so sweet!”

I asked if we could take a photo together and she readily agreed, coming to the front of the counter to stand together.

Joy! Joy! Joy!

Then I waited for the other clerk to return from the back and I presented her with flowers, too. She was the clerk that had processed my book packages earlier in the day, so I thanked her for taking care of all the books I’ve been mailing lately. She was just as surprised by my RAK! As she came to the front, I heard her say, “Wow! I feel so appreciated! This is just incredible!”

After we took our photos, I turned to see everyone smiling. EVERYONE! Do you know how great that is to see EVERYONE around you with a smile on their face? WOW!

I left the post office with a heart filled with joy and a perma-smile on my face for the rest of the day. It was a perfect way to #CelebrateMonday and put a little kindness boomerang on this April Fool’s Day!

How are YOU adding good to the world this week? Leave a comment and share your stories, too! There will be a few more posts heading your way this week as I share the latest on my #REBkind Kindness Book Tour to Texas and my recent book signing events. Subscribe below so you don’t miss a single post!

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