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Serving at the Community Garden

July 21st, 2014

garden signs group








We took a group of girls from the Harpeth Hall School Care Bears Volunteer Camp to volunteer at the Nashville Food Project’s community garden this summer.  It’s a huge garden that is so well-cared for by community volunteers.  We took a tour of the garden and learned about the plants growing there.  We sampled some of the herbs and learned about their partnership with a local restaurant that uses their herbs in exchange for compost.  We even learned about kiwi trees – I didn’t know they grew in Tennessee!

Then we settled into a shady spot to paint signs for their garden.  After painting, we learned about the importance of eating the colors of the rainbow, including specific ways that each vegetable/fruit is important for our health and specific food items that we enjoy ‘across the rainbow’.  It was a great day of service and learning!


What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind

July 15th, 2014

Greetings from Barbara at The Corner on Character. During my thirty years spent teaching and counseling (all grades preK through 12th) in public education, I have been encouraged time and time again by colleagues and friends to write a book. Since I’d been sharing my ideas for character integration online since 2000, my pat answer was always that I’d posted enough content for a book online, for free. But still, character educators seemed enthusiastic about and eager for a book. Then, one day in early October 2103, I got an email from a cyberspace collaborator in Florida with the word PROMISE in the subject line. Here’s what it said:

Can you promise me one day when you consolidate all of your amazing posts into your future best-selling book that I can get a signed copy? Your posts belong on a bookshelf as well as your blog, especially in libraries everywhere. Dream big, God has incredible plans for you. Love you sweet friend, Tamara

I received the gift of encouragement, from Tamara, that day and shortly afterward, I met Marian from Nelson Publishing and Marketing at the Character Education Partnership National Forum on Character Education where she saw me speak. Before I knew it, I was sending a signed book contract off to Michigan.


Using this guiding question as a focus – What do workshop participants typically leave my sessions having enjoyed and wanting more of? –  the answer, character-infusion stories and strategies, became the basis for What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. It’s a quick guide to character development, aimed at educators and caregivers who have a hand in helping our future leaders crusade for good. Using the acrostic SUPERHEROES to layout the eleven chapters, I’ve infused inspirational interactions with innovative ideas to help develop eleven of the virtues that we can nurture in our caped crusaders as we empower them to soar.


Here now, an excerpt from Chapter 3 – P is for Perseverance:

So, how do we get our superheroes to stay the course? They have to have permission to fail. They need to know that not only is failure okay but that, according to author Paul Tough, it might be the key to success. In his research, Tough found that grit, resilience, and perseverance were key ingredients in the success stories of their test subjects.10 Kids who don’t give up when they encounter obstacles in their way, who don’t quit when they hit a pothole in the road, and who don’t abandon ship when the winds shift and steering their vessel seems all but impossible are the kids who find the greatest success through their school years and beyond. As we coach these learners, we must encourage them to take risks and to be okay with messing up. They need to know that mistakes are opportunities for reflection, improvement, and growth. We must help them strive to do THEIR best, not be THE best. We have to change the mindset that the silver medal is somehow losing. Silver isn’t losing. It’s coming in second. That’s all. When did silver get so tarnished? Is it possible that we’re raising kids to quit when they think they can’t attain the coveted gold at the end of the rainbow?

When my daughter started in the marching band, she had high hopes for them at the State Marching Contest. They were marching a clean and elegant show with strong music, and they ended up fourth in the State of Texas out of 250 bands their size. Two years and lots of growth and improvement later, their band came out of the preliminary competition number one. But there were still finals with new judges and a clean slate. The students marched their hearts out, and they came in second. They were devastated. Crushed to have gotten so close to gold and yet so far. Second place out of so many bands is good, no doubt, but they set their standards high. They worked hard, and there was a lot of disappointment.

But here’s what superheroes know: winning is a state of mind. There were thousands of students who didn’t even get a trip to the state competition because they didn’t advance out of their district or their area, so just getting to state made them winners. The way that the 271 members, musicians and guard members, together created magic with their music made them winners. Leaving it all on the field, heart and soul, made them winners. It shouldn’t matter, if they worked hard, persevered, and gave it their best, and earned second or fifth or tenth.


Thank you for your interest in my new release; author-signed copies of the book are available for purchase at The Corner On Character.  For superhero activity ideas, visit my Pinterest page and to come along on our What’s Under Your Cape? book study that starts July 12, check out the book’s Facebook page

See schedule below and check out the first chapter review at



Volunteering at a Community Preschool

July 14th, 2014

We took a group of girls from the Harpeth Hall School Care Bears Volunteer Camp to volunteer at the St. Luke’s Community House preschool this summer.   It was such a great experience!  We divided up into groups of 2-3 volunteers to assist in the various preschool classrooms.  We took a few fun props like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a ball, and pinwheels to play with.  Some of the highlights of the day included reading with preschool children, splashing with toddlers during water play, making a train with riding toys in the gym, hula-hooping with 4 years olds, building a huge block tower that was taller than the children, bouncing balls in the gym, playing a spontaneous animal game with a young boy, and creating a dinosaur land with preschoolers.   Then to close the day, we heard the story of St. Luke’s and took a tour of their comprehensive facility.  So many great memories! We can’t post pictures, because we need to protect the little children, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse into our day, and gives you may ideas for volunteering in your favorite preschool.

Volunteering at the Animal Shelter

July 7th, 2014

animal shelter signs humane assoc boxes








We took a group of girls from the Harpeth Hall School Care Bears Volunteer Camp to volunteer at the Williamson County Humane Association this summer.  With 14 young girls ages 10-13, we had to get creative with projects they were allowed to do according to the site rules.   We spent some time talking about pets, pet care, choosing the right pet, and vaccinations.  Then we divided into small groups for service projects:

we decorated 14 picture frames for people that will adopt animals

we assembled 170 kitty litter boxes for the shelter

we colored and hung 28 “adopt me” posters on dog cages

we walked a few dogs, and visited many dogs in their cages

we played with cats

It was a lot of fun for the girls, and some volunteer said it was the highlight of their week!

Animal Corners from “Great Group Games”

June 26th, 2014

“Hey!  I wanted to tell you that I used the Animal Corners activity on page 54 of the Great Group Games book today in my girls’ groups.  The discussions were FABULOUS!  That’s for the work you do!”

Elizabeth Parrot, MMFT
Middle School Counselor
Wanna play the game with your group?  Here are the instructions.  It’s so simple to play, but can lead to great discussions.

Animal Corners

Time 10–20 minutes

Supplies :  Four sheets of paper, Masking tape, Marker

The Game Label each sheet of paper with one of these titles: “Lion,” “Deer,” “Fox,” and “Dove” (you could also use “Mountain,” “River,” “Ocean,” “Meadow,” or “Piano,” “Guitar,” “Drum,” and “Flute”). Tape one sign in each corner of the room. Ask players to stand under the sign they are most like when part of the group.


Going Deeper

Why did you choose this sign?

What choice would you make (and why) if you were with friends? Family? By yourself?

How difficult was it for you to choose?

How is taking a stand important for each of us?


Asset Categories Social Competencies, Positive Identity



Cyberbullying Resources

June 24th, 2014

Know a child that is bullying or being bullied in cyberspace?  Check out this article (, which has action steps if your kid IS the bully or is being bullied.

You can also look at this site:

Shoot for the Moon

June 19th, 2014

My son’s language arts teacher gave him this magnet in support of a very large reading goal that he had set for himself.  I love it!  How can you support a child’s dreams today?



Labeling Bullies

June 17th, 2014

“If we label young people as ‘bullies’ and ‘victims,’ we send the message that we expect them to always fit into those categories– sending a hopeless message that nothing will ever change.  It is important to understand that bullying does not define a person, but rather describes a behavior.  Like all behaviors, bullying can be changed with support, guidance, and intervention.  We have the opportunity to encourage positive, pro-social behaviors among youth– ensuring everyone’s right to be safe.”

- Dr. Cricket Meehan, author of The Right to Be Safe: Putting an End to Bullying Behavior

If you’re looking for more resources on stopping bullying, google these groups:
Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE)
SAVE on Facebook
The Office for Victims of Crime
Striving to Reduce Youth Violence Everywhere (STRYVE)
The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention
CDC’s page on youth violence

Shoeing in El Salvador

June 12th, 2014

Meet 15-year-old Diego Alvarez, founder of Shoeing, a nonprofit that provides footwear to shoeless youth in El Salvador. Diego and some of his friends decided to address this need in their local community.  In less than a year and 2,000 shoes later, what started as a local high school service project has spread to high schools throughout El Salvador and now Honduras.

Read more:  Shoeing in El Salvador

Choosing Happiness in a Dark World

June 10th, 2014
How To Be Happy When Your World Is Falling Apart


It’s fairly easy to be happy when life is treating you well.  But what about when the s**t is hitting the fan, you feel like you have no control and nothing is going your way?

Why how you think and feel about it all is your choice.

You can choose to throw your hands in the air, be a victim and forever proclaim the world to be a bad place, out to get people.

Or you can choose to ask what lessons the Universe is sending your way.  What lessons have you missed in past experiences that the Universe is now slamming you over the head with?  What lessons do you need to learn?

You can also ask, “What’s great about this?”

You can make a focused attempt to see the silver lining.


Read the full article full of practical ideas here

A Leadership Quote from Thomas Carlyle

June 9th, 2014

“Let one who wants to move and convince others, first be convinced and moved themselves. If a person speaks with genuine earnestness the thoughts, the emotion and the actual condition of their own heart, others will listen because we all are knit together by the tie of sympathy.”

Sharing a Love for Books

June 5th, 2014

I love the 4 ideas shared in this blog!  Click through the article to read more about each idea:

1. Send your books on a journey

2. Make your library mobile

3. Build a tiny library

4. Have a book exchange party

Here’s the full article:  Love Your Books? 4 Ways to Share Them With Others

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas

June 3rd, 2014

I love the Random Acts of Kindness movement.  It’s such a great reminder for all of us to be kind.   The RAK website has tons of ideas to stimulate your thinking about acts of kindness.  Go explore, and let us know about your favorite acts!

Happy day,

Ann & Susan

The Daffodil Principle

May 30th, 2014
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, ‘Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.’ I wanted
to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. ‘I will come next Tuesday’, I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house, I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.‘Forget the daffodils, Carolyn!The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!’
My daughter smiled calmly and said, ‘We drive in this all the time, Mother.’
‘Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home!’ I assured her.
‘But first we’re going to see the daffodils. It’s just a few blocks,’ Carolyn said. ‘I’ll drive. I’m used to this.’
‘Carolyn,’ I said sternly, ‘Please turn around.’
‘It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.’
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, ‘ Daffodil Garden .’ We got out of the car, each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swathes of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
‘Who did this?’ I asked Carolyn.
‘Just one woman,’ Carolyn answered. ‘She lives on the property. That’s her home.’ Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.
On the patio, we saw a poster. ‘Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking’, was the headline. The first answer was a simple one.’ 50,000 bulbs,’ it read. The second answer was, ‘One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.’ The third answer was, ‘Began in 1958.’
For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.
That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time–often just one baby-step at a time–and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world .

‘It makes me sad in a way,’ I admitted to Carolyn. ‘What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!’

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. ‘Start tomorrow,’ she said.
She was right. It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, ‘How can I put this to use today?’
Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting…Until your car or home is paid off Until you get a new car or home Until your kids leave the house Until you go back to school Until you finish school Until you clean the house Until you organize the garage Until you clean off your desk Until you lose 10 lbs. Until you gain 10 lbs. Until you get married Until you get a divorce Until you have kids Until the kids go to school Until you retire Until summer Until spring Until winter Until fall Until you die…

There is no better time than right now to be happy.
Happinessisa journey,nota destination.
Soworklike youdon’tneed money.
Lovelikeyou’ve neverbeenhurt.
Dancelikeno one’swatching. Ifyouwanttobrightensomeone’sday,passthisontosomeonespecial.I just did! Wishing you a beautiful, daffodil day! Happy SPRING!

Active Service Project – Kids Triathlon

May 29th, 2014

Last summer, my kids hosted the first Pleasant View Kids Triathlon, where the club leaders challenged their friends to complete a triathlon over the course of the summer, and refuse the temptation to sit on the sofa all summer.  Adults loved the idea, because it inspired the kids to exercise.  Kids loved striving towards their ice cream goal.  All triathletes were invited to a swimming and ice cream sundae party in August.  I’m sure it will be a repeat this summer!