Connecting Kindness

Today my heart is so incredibly happy because I just spent three glorious days in Washington DC at the National Forum on Character Education, where I got to serve as their first-ever guest MC.

I flew to DC with this heartwarming realistic fiction novel, 
kindly sent to me by the publisher, in hand ...

Click the image for more info.
... and I landed in DC with it imprinted deeply onto my heart.
As I devoured Maddie's story on the plane, I cried.
Like big crocodile tears.
Tears of pain because of the pain no child should have to endure
and the connection to one of my own students this year
who is terminally ill with a brain dystrophy.
And then tears of joy because that resilient,
compassionate child decides to forgive, give grace,
and show kindness in an incredibly difficult social situation.

I mustache that you grab your tissues and check out this kindness giant by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown; when you do, please check back in and let us know what you thought about Maddie and her journey.

 My flight arrived in time for the last little bit of an afternoon workshop, registration, and a chance to reconnect over dinner with some friends from Dallas over an early dinner. My official duties would start by 7:30 am Friday morning, so I called it an early night.

Friday brought one joy after another.
This year's Forum was huge.
766 character educator friends.
23 states.
10 nations.

To illustrate the importance of moving from me to we, I took the mic and immediately asked some counseling friends from Clear Creek ISD to join me on stage to sing You Are My Sunshine. 

It was a powerful moment I will never forget and I will forever be grateful to these five peacemakers for showing conference-goers that together we're better.

After a full day of fun soaking in knowledge, wisdom and insight with Michele BorbaByron Garrett, and my new friend Houston Kraft, it was time for the Promising Practices workshop. After all of the winners were announced but before I went back to the stage to introduce the Sandy Award, it came to my attention that we'd forgotten to announce the names of a few of our winners. So I took down their information, apologized for our oversight and was about to call for the thunderous applause that they deserved when a disturbance in the crowd led me to believe that there may be a few more schools to recognize. 

It was clear that a big decision needed to be made. 
By me. 
On my own. 
For the good of the group. 
So I called an audible and made this announcement:

 If your school's name was left off of the list, please come on up to the stage so that we can celebrate your school and your Promising Practice.

As they lined up, I was really hoping I had done the right thing.
As I listened to them announce their school's name and watched the school pride ooze from their very cores,
I knew I had.
I reconnected with my book's publisher and editor for dinner that night, and slept really, really well satisfied by how the day had gone.

On Saturday, up early again, this time to set the tables
with Kind Coins cards from our friends at Kids For Peace.
Along with that box of cards, more kindness; 
a copy of Do The Kind Thing and some pom pons for me.

Then, I got to introduce my audience to Jet Stream Jax
and play the Kind Coins video clip.

And they fell in love!

Then, more inspirational workshops, including this one 
by Motivational Ninja Joe Beckman.

Joe Beckman moved us by inviting a few of us
to dance The Cupid Shuffle with him. 
Check out those smooth moves!
His message? Humans thrive on connection.
Here's a brilliant suggestion I hope we'll try:

And finally, the National Schools of Character luncheon
where we honored Clear Lake Elementary, Ward Elementary,
and Mossman Elementary from our neighboring towns.

After Dara Feldman's riveting afternoon keynote,
I headed to the airport for my 4:55 pm flight.
Turns out, it would carry some Korean War Veterans
so we were treated to a mail roll call,
singing the Aggie War hymn,
and a water salute at landing.

All of us connected by kindness.
In unity.
As one.

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