"I’ve been at this school for 38 years. I’ve never seen the staff this engaged."

I am starting my 43rd year as an educator. Thirty of those years I have been an activity director and leadership class teacher at a large high school. My leadership class curriculum has been based mainly on projects and giving back to the school and I’m good at motivating students to do projects.

I didn’t think an “old dog” could learn new tricks until I brought John Norlin to my school to keynote a mid-year leadership summit. I always knew John had a different approach to teaching leadership but I already alluded to “old” and learning new approaches in my twilight years seemed questionable at best.  It just so happened that one of my administrators attended John’s keynote and that got the ball rolling. My principal was convinced and brought John back to speak to about half our staff in June, which led to 15 of us attending the CharacterStrong workshop in August, then bringing John back to speak to the entire staff before school started.  Meanwhile John had custom designed the CharacterStrong curriculum for our school to be taught in small 5 minute chunks during our extra five minute homeroom time allotment. And me, I was given an entire semester of day to day lessons in character development for my leadership classes.

Needless to say these character lessons have been transformative. I’ve been at this school for 38 years. I’ve never seen the staff this engaged with students and I believe the kids are more engaged with one another. Our mascot is the Bombers. Our students and staff are on the runway engines are revved-up and ready for take-off.  It’s going to be an exciting journey.

Jim Qualheim - Richland High School, WA - 43 Years in Education