Building Social Emotional Skills through Cooperative Learning

Building Social Emotional Skills through Cooperative Learning

Dr. Stephanie Knight

It seems as though the kids who enter my classroom have more needs than ever before.  Sure, they need the three R’s, but they also enter with social emotional deficits. This impacts their learning! On one hand emotions have the potential to boost students’ thinking, but conversely they can inhibit learning. Daniel Goleman, the expert on Emotional Intelligence, would stress teachers need to be not only discussing feelings but adding this emotional intelligence quotient into the day. (Goleman, 2001) I have found that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills embedded into the curriculum + Cooperative Learning structures + Reflection = Optimum learning for life long skills.

Embedding vs. Explicit

Mastering the emotional intelligence skills (self awareness, managing emotions, self motivation, empathy, and handling social relationships), coined by Daniel Goleman (1995), is crucial for school and life success. SEL is a process for teaching these skills. One way to help students gain these skills (like lessons on empathy, etc.) is to teach them explicitly as part of the curriculum. This takes extra planning and perhaps can replace what must be covered. On the other hand, there is power in the embedded curriculum. Many seem to learn better when the skill is applied, such as a simple Think Pair Share (taking turns and sharing ideas), and Kagan would argue that the Cooperative Learning (CL) structures are a way of teaching by doing (Kagan, 2001).

Yes, but HOW?

CL is not new but many struggle with its implementation. Without structure, getting my students to work cooperatively never worked. However with the use of formal CL in the classroom, students have roles and participate in decision-making. There is safe expression of ideas while they foster positive social relationships. Simultaneously, there is the teaching of accountability and responsibility.

The key is STARTING my year showing that our classroom goal is to be a community. Students must have BUY-IN and that is why we discuss how we will work on the emotional skill goals. These goals are posted along with empowering quotes showing that we will be a cooperative learning classroom. However, practice and constant modeling is crucial. I use the structures for content, but I always will add in a fun icebreaker to keep us community-oriented. Class-builders should be done weekly too.

Practical ideas for using SEL in the CL

Each week, post the social-emotional goal on which you would like to focus. The

following are some great Cooperative Learning strategies developed by Kagan (2001). Again, this is part of the goal of being a community. Self-awareness can start the year because you might want to have students have journals, think pads, and personal space on which they can rely.

1.     Self-Awareness


  • Journal Reflections: Students keep a feelings journal in which they record their emotional reactions to anything which occurs in school including successes, failures, and relationships. (Kagan, 2001)
  • Always allow think time before they respond on a think pad or such.
  • (Each student should have a think pad (a blank notepad) so they can record a thought before answering in class. This also allows one to record any thoughts without blurting out impulsively).

 2.     Self-Control


  • Talking Pencils: This approach works wonders for discussion or even a practice for multiple-choice answers. (“It can’t be “B” because…; or “it might be “C” because…”)
  • When one wants to share his/her opinion, he/she places his pencil in the center of the four-person group. Once each has spoken, he/she cannot speak again until everyone has put in a pencil. When all pencils have been put in, they take them back and start with the next question.

3.     Self-Motivation


  •  Rally Coach: This method allows each student in a pair to solve a problem with coaching from the other partner, fostering self-worth and independence.
  • A pair could be working on a math problem or a lab report.
  • Partner A can work the first problem while Partner B watches, listens, coaches, and praises.
    • This part is going to require practice as many don’t know how to listen, coach, and praise.
    • Students’ confidence will build and they will want to solve problems because they won’t feel like failure is fatal.
    • Next, Partner B solves the next problem while Partner A watches, listens, coaches, and praises. Partners take turns until the task is complete.

 4.     Empathy


  • Jigsaw: With this method, each student on the team masters a different part of the lesson. Each teammate leaves the team, and works with like-topic members from other teams. Students then return to teach their teammates their portion of the content. (Hirsch, 2014)
  • This not only builds empathy as students learn to really listen, but it also builds self-confidence and motivation as other students become experts.
  • According to Hirsch (2014), “Cooperative learning creates what Daniel Goleman calls “cognitive empathy,” a mind-to-mind sense of how another person’s thinking works.”
  • Many Kagan Structures encourage empathy because they involve asking others questions, interpreting body language, and discussion.


5.     Relationship Skills


  • CenterPiece: This approach is a great interaction brainstorming opportunity.
  • Each group needs five pieces of paper per team of four, one paper each and one in the center.  There is a brainstorming topic, and each participant writes his/her choice. He/she says it, writes it, and exchanges the paper with the one in the center. Participants continue to brainstorm, each time trading their page with the CenterPiece.
  • Finally, the teacher leads in whole group discussion of each centerpiece title and allows groups to share/explain responses.  This can work great for writing prompts or reviewing math problems. At the same time, group dynamics continue to strengthen.
  • To build relationships, all of these structures or many others suffice.

Student Reflection and Self-Assessment

Ideally, reflection should occur daily and is perfect inside the journals or on a peer, self, or group reflection sheet. Without the process of thinking back on one’s experiences, one cannot truly grow into a deeper understanding of self. Plus, this creates accountability so students can stay focused on goals.

Choosing to embed Cooperative Learning structures into the regular curriculum enables students to practice using social skills throughout the school day. Optimum learning is contingent on healthy SEL which comes from CL and reflection. If started early and continued consistently, things will change, and the classroom will become a true community.








Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ.  New

York: Bantam Books.


Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence: Five Years Later, February 23, 2001.



Hirsch, Joe. Teaching Empathy: Turning a Lesson Plan into a Life Skill, February 6,




Kagan, S. Kagan Structures for Emotional Intelligence. San Clemente, CA: Kagan

Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine, Fall 2001.

Thoughts on Friendship

What can explain this growth of BLOGGING? Perhaps people are hungry for intimacy and connection. What has happened to real friendship?

Here are some of my thoughts:


  1. CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein used to seek each other out to debate. They had an incredible friendship and were not afraid of disagreement. In fact, they spent countless hours discussing things and become closer as friends. What happened to this?


  1. The idea of friendship is exemplified in David and Jonathan, yet they were NOT gay. Men need friends. Do they have them without being labeled homosexual?


  1. Women cannot be friends if they disagree. It seems to tear them apart. They take it personally. What happened to working things out? What about the Proverbs version of a friend. “A friend loves at all times.” (Prov 17:17)
    1. We don’t take the time to nurture a friendship and especially after a disagreement. Now it is too easy to walk away because the time was not built on the onset. Back in time, people spent time together. They had to work it out because they had nowhere else to go. Sitting around the table, discussing, disagreeing, debating, sharing..this was all part of daily life. Now, we have email to help us run from confrontation. We have voicemail and cell phones to screen calls and avoid talking to the person. We have little need to have a conversation because we have so many electronic devices to keep our mind occupied. We also have no direct contact with people in places of business also. Hence, how can one ever LEARN to healthily debate, let alone have a CONVERSATION?
  2. Also, people need people. We don’t really do much conversing now, and so therefore look at the mental health of the society. It is filled with anger problems, depression, stress, anxiety, sleep disorders… I think all this stems from a lack of intimacy with people: Friendships.


  1. If people get too close who are the same sex, they become fearful. What does it mean to have a TRUE FRIEND? Is there confrontation, accountability, challenge, and disagreements involved? This needs to occur and be worked out. It is what truly brings people closer.
    1. Joseph McCarthy attacked people because if they did not agree with all of AMERICAN ways, they were therefore a “Communist.” Edward R. Murrow suggested that discord and disagreement does not mean DISOWNERSHIP. This healthy debate led to the freedoms we have today. Why don’t we treat friendship the same way?
    2. In terms of same sex: Friendship has to occur before any kind of intimacy can. How can two people create a bond if they don’t allow challenge? Conflict resolution is vital to a friendship, or it is not such.


  1. Our society has an overabundance of electronic stimulation: Everywhere we go we are bombarded by screens or noise. If there is silence, there is a discomfort. Kids say, “I am bored,” because they have nothing to entertain them. What happened to good ol’ fashion conversation? Or perhaps reading a book? An intimate friendship or stimulating discussion soothes the soul and sates the fear of isolation. People don’t even know they are hurting anymore. Unfortunately, what I am witnessing is children growing up relating to screens and video people. They have no “give and take” exchanges. Communication needs to be developed. It does not come naturally. It is a TWO-WAY street: Listening and responding properly.


  1. Studies have been done and have shown that people get more out of reading a book than working on “worksheets.” What does this say about interaction with stories and lives? This says that people are yearning for connection/relationship.


  1. “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion” People are yearning to be in relationship. Why should they follow the pack and be “obedient” if they have no motive to do so. A sense of morality is missing because LOVE is not exemplified in our daily lives. As an educator, I strive to relate to each student and exhibit LOVE, be it tough or graceful. IF this is not my philosophy, nothing else I do will be heard or learned and what good is it?


  1. Thomas Friedman wrote in THE WORLD IS FLAT: “People are wired to want to connect with other people and they find it objectionable not to be able to do so. That is what Netscape unlocked.” (p. 63) Flattening is occurring because of there is a hunger for RELATIONSHIPS and DEEP NEEDS FOR CONNECTION.


  1. Teachers may be the only ones left who can provide a role model for learning to communicate and develop friendships. I strive to interact with each student as a human being. This means LISTENING to them and responding. Cooperative Learning in the classroom also teaches them these skills. Conflicts arise, but they must deal with them because they are to work with the same team throughout the quarter.



Thoughts on Happiness

Thoughts on Happiness


Have you ever struggled with how to be happy? Who hasn’t? It’s one of the deepest pursuits of life. I seem to find I obtain happiness through constantly striving to be and do more. When I consider this struggle, I think I am misguided. I feel like the “struggle” should be more about the feelings I attain through my day which occur through my tasks and interactions. I have often believed that I have to have a purpose to be happy. We all do. However, living a purposeful life and making meaning out of each hour of the day requires constructive (as opposed to destructive thoughts) which leads to our happiness on this earth. Since thoughts originate from feelings, it is imperative to look at what we do with the feelings which come and go through the day. If we have the contentment, joy, and happiness (which I feel to be synonymous), we will live more giving lives which what Jesus asks us to do in Matthew 28: 19 and that is to make disciples and build His kingdom. Isn’t being happy, then, a principled obligation to our fellow man?


So with this said, I would like to look at some lessons I have learned about the whole “Happiness” concept.  It is important to differentiate between what is happiness and what is pleasure. Happiness is like love. It cannot be defined in a dictionary. Pleasure can be, however. Pleasure is short term, spikes of excitement which can come and go throughout the day. Many people seek pleasure only to find that it is futile and short-lived. In fact, many become addicted to the “feeling.” If we are guided by our “feelings” then  we are in for major disappointment since feelings change as fast as the moment of the day. It has been said there are 20,000 moments in the day, ergo, it would be quite tiresome to let our feelings rule our moments. So perhaps happiness has to come from a habit of mind, and not a habit of feeling. This is to say, the use of our minds and intelligences is essential to achieving happiness.


Does it sound strange to say,” I am in pursuit of happiness?” Did God ever say that we are to be happy and that we are put on this earth to be happy?” I would surmise that that it is not our ‘purpose’ per se, but it is an obligation to be happy because this is what occurs when our focus is on God and His glorious gifts he gave to us undeserving souls. He did not have to pursue us to create a relationship with us, but The WORD exemplifies a tremendous love story between God and His human creation. He chose to save us and build in an opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him through the sacrifice of His son (He paid the sin price for all of us). That seems the first step to finding happiness: GRATITUDE. In that way, I do think God would like us to be happy. It is difficult to be unhappy if we are full of gratitude for our existence, no matter what our circumstances. I mean, we as humans, are forgiven! We are being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that one may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks. (Col 1:11)


Joy is discussed often in the Bible. Joy and contentment are great synonyms for happiness. “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24). How is this possible when human nature is to always be satisfied? Human nature is working constantly against us and this is  the greatest obstacle to finding happiness. This is  probably one of the primary reasons we need to have a relationship with God. He gives us the ABILITY and POWER (through the Holy Spirit) to battle our human nature. (“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” ) -John 3:5-7. It is not possible “by” ourselves to be happy although it has to come to us not from outside forces, but from the power of God “within” us. “But now I (Jesus) come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they (Us) may have My (Jesus) joy made full in themselves. (John 17:13).

This verse corroborates the point of not being able to seek it from another person or “event.” It must be sought from OUR work, not someone else’s work upon us.

So how can this be? Circumstances constantly change and life is hard. What happens to us when we fall victim to our feelings? If our feelings become thoughts, then we must have discipline to overcome the natural tendency to become deeply troubled. “And bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) This means it is a discipline or HABIT of the mind to extinguish a negative thought (which erupts from a negative feeling). It is not our hearts for which we can trust because our feelings are misleading. If we don’t do this, our thoughts potential become bad decision and sinful behavior. This IS part of the plan of God which again makes it a biblical concept, that we may not sin. In that case, happiness, being part of our disciplined mind’s activity, must be sought in order avoid sinful activities. The genesis of this has to come from an attitude which must be adopted.

This is why I argue for gratitude. Imagine, if we walk around with an attitude of gratitude? We avoid these pitfalls which inevitably steal and rip apart our joy and happiness.

The first one is the comparison game. Most of the comparisons we make are based on false assumptions of others. Have you ever caught yourself saying, “If only I looked like that” of “She has the perfect life” or “They have no problems.” The list is endless. It is totally in our imaginations because virtually all people put on some sort of mask when they are around others. If all people do this, then it is inevitable that others will make assumptions based on those masks. This is why it is so key to have intimate relationships with others. First, it enables you to talk out your misguided thought which then can become quenched once you realize we all have similar issues. Also, it allows us to become more real which in turn makes people want to be around us. No one likes to be around someone who is perfect and has no faults. It’s not reality!


The second one is IMAGES. Yes, comparing others is a form of image worship, but when we have it in our minds as to the expectation of what the “perfect” marriage is..or the “perfect” body..or the “Perfect” career”, we set ourselves up for failure. The only perfect person is Jesus. It is important to understand that hope is different than holding an idyllic image in our head. This is why being a follower of Christ, we know that this world brokenness and trouble does exist, but it won’t be “perfected” until we are glorified in Heaven and Jesus reigns supreme.


The third one is a “What is missing?” problem. Is it not so easy to focus on what is not there than to see what is? This is sabotages our happiness because there will ALWAYS be something missing. The “Most Important Thing” in our hearts changes like our feelings…constantly! Think about it. When you woke up this morning, you had your mind on the LATEST issue in your life. Two weeks later, you probably can’t even remember what that was but at the time it was MIT! With a grateful heart, we can deal with our issues but keeping a healthy perspective which says that it’s not as important as we may give it credit. Have you ever thought how much energy and time it takes for things to go RIGHT? Why don’t we celebrate those days. “Gosh, my body has not aches today!” or “My mom is alive and doing sell.” We maybe should look at what is “good” in our lives for a change instead of constantly seeking out what is not.


Finally, the opposite of gratitude is expectation. If we hold expectations or feel entitled constantly, it’s pretty impossible to be grateful. When we start to expect perfection from people, or when we feel certain things are “owed” to us, we basically lose control. That’s it and authority is handed over to others to make us happy. That means we are waiting on others (And GOD) to give us love, gifts…whatever.


Life is hard. It takes work. It takes discipline. But pursuing a habit of mind when feelings come along  (which breed misery), we can actually control those feelings to be extinguished and focus back on the reality. This reality has to be an attitude of gratitude. This is not easy as life throws us punches which seem unfair. However, with  a deep, personal, intimate relationship with God, (which has to stem from gratitude since (“He loved us so much that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him shall NOT perish but have eternal life”-John 3:16), we can actually take our feelings to God, ask for help in turning these feelings into constructive thoughts which lead to a closer relationship with Him. This does not mean a “Pollyanna” existence. It does mean acknowledging the feeling through the dilemma or issue, working through it with intimate friendships and with God, and creating a Habit Of Mind to remain content and happy through the storm.


The Green Electric Box

The Green Electric Box


“Yes, Shelley, you are president again.” It was going to be Kelly, Annabel, or Shelley, but not me. No, I was not to be president, as I did not want to speak up. What if they did not like me? I knew I was special in that I did not want to be like everyone else, but I also knew I wanted to be liked, even at this age of 7. I always felt like I was in observation mode, stepping outside myself to examine others around me. I never really felt a part of any “group.” Being the square peg, I never seemed to fit into the round hole which everyone seemed to be a part. I could not put my finger on it, but I knew I was different in some way. I was more sensitive and affected by everything around me. The introspection I would face daily, would drive me crazy. However, little did I know that God was preparing me to be a leader and a teacher. One thing I did discover, nevertheless, is that every child has these deep insecurities, but they are covered up by bullying, snickering, gossiping, or extreme shyness.


This club that we had formed took place on a small green electric box in the town homes for which we lived. It was just the right size to fit 4 tiny bodies, sitting Indian style. Shelley would call the meeting to order and we would discuss the latest issue of “Tiger Beat.” Sean Cassidy was the heartthrob, but I had my eye on Andy Gibb. This was a never-ending controversy, but I did not want to have the same crush as everyone else. We would decide what fan club we were going to support. We finally agreed that Leif Erickson was a superior choice. Again, I did not concur, but I felt it would be fun to be a part of the “club.” This became our daily routine until we got bored with that and decided to play “Charlie’s Angels.”


Now, the most sought after “Angel” was Kelly (played by Farrah Fawcett).  Unfortunately, the loser had to be stuck being “Sabrina” played by Kate Jackson. Again, it was rare that I got to be Kelly, but the fantastic thing was that I was small, so I did not usually get stuck with Kate’s role. I just remember how cool we thought we were. This game would usually, in turn, create animosity between Shelley and Annabel. They were always fighting. I typically would try to assist in them making amends and I knew I did not want to anger friends. I always wanted to keep things peaceful. I found early on that it is impossible to please everyone and keep the peace. Conflict management was applied in my life which soon came natural since my home life was filled with chaos and conflict.


To this day, I still strive to keep the peace. I don’t have the same desires to be in the “club.”  Of course, I want to be liked and be “popular.” However, the standards I follow now are God’s standards which are not always what the masses believe. I have found that having good character is a pathway to happiness and peace of mind. As Ray Magdalene says, “Like ripples in a pond, your character radiates outward and touches the hearts of people within your sphere of influence.” What I do to live a godly life and how much I love others will determine not only my happiness, but will permeate the lives around me and create a better world. I pray I can live with this type of grace for others and for myself. The green electric box still stands today and is a constant reminder of my newfound strength, hope, and encouragement to self-inflicted “square pegs” around the world.




Skating on Thin Ice

Skating on “thin” ice


Was it gymnastics? No. Was it going to be ballet? No. My “Sunday” Dad would introduce me to tennis and basketball, but it did not catch on. With an athletic family, there must be something I would excel in. One day, my mom took me to the ice skating rink. She struck gold when she bought me a pair of pricey ice skates. It was a huge sacrifice for her due to her extremely limited income. My father would support this sport for me, but with much contention. He made it difficult for me to thoroughly enjoy it because I was reminded often of how costly my chosen sport had become.

My skates would adorn my cold feet as they came to bed with me every night. Of course, the rubber guards covered the sharp blades at all times or else mom would have banned this habit. I could put out an eye! (or a toe!) The morning sun would shine through my white wooden shutters and up I would rise to a new day of gliding through the house.


It was the day of my lesson with coach Jim and how I panted with excitement to attempt that darn axel jump. The lay back/sit/camel spins were the most exhilarating, but how I longed to land that axel with precision and ease. “If you don’t fall and get scraped up, you are not trying!”, I would hear over and over. The warmth of my leg “sweaters” would cuddle my legs and the hope of Dad or Mom watching from above would coddle my soul. I hoped they would eye my grace, but often that was not the case. I was usually floundering on the ice to make it through a day’s lesson and I would watch all my “competition” look perfect.  I’d exit the ice and grab a hot chocolate out of the vending machine to rest my weary body, but “no rest for the weary” would play in my head as I savored every drop only to go back and try again.


It was time to prepare for the ISIA competition to be held in Phoenix. If I could earn a medal in this event, Dad would perhaps let me go to California to compete in a larger event. The day was approaching and I found that all the other girls were adorning their tiny skater bodies with expensive, ornate costumes. I so wanted to fit in to the “look” of the hip skaters. I also wished I could afford the fancier, more durable skates. I was never to complain. My dear mother took her precious hard earned income and created an emerald green sequenced butterfly to be sewn on my basic green skating dress. It was beautifully made and from the heart. No, it did not fit the “look” of the rest of the girls, but I appreciated it immensely. My dad was too busy to come for the big day, but I did have my mom and grandparents there. My coach also watched with pride and expectation. The cameras were ready and music began to play. It was just me; alone on the ice with not a movement or sound to be found. Before I knew it, I had completed my program. No knees were scraped and no falling took place. I heard on the announcements, “And…the Gold medal goes to…..Stephanie Scharf!!.” I did it! My first front of all those peering eyes!!


Now it was time to head into the room for pictures. I knew that this was a moment to be proud. I think, however, my mom was more proud than me. When I first started out, it was pure enjoyment. However, sometimes I felt like I was doing this to be perfect and accomplish something great for her. But I digress. I now can laugh at my stickly figure which was two long legs butting out from my chest. My waist was non-existent as I resembled a beanpole adorned in a teeny green dress and poofy, little belly. Those pictures will always make me laugh and also to be proud. Oh Boy! Orange I come!


The part that makes me cry pierces my heart to the core. From the day I started, it was always brought to my attention how expensive my chosen sport had become. My father, who contributed to this endeavor never let me forget how hard it was for him to keep it up financially. Everything cost money. On Sundays, the only days I saw him, he would take me to the rink and watch me for a few minutes. Then he would leave and come pick me up later. He never had time to come to competitions, but I did know he was proud of me. I think I skated my heart out to please him, but I could never do enough. I also could never get



My Road Not Taken

Grassy Roads

            I have a confession to make: I never felt part of “the group” in middle school. It wasn’t until returning to my high school reunion that my classmates shared with me how much they thought I had it all together and that they had an abounding respect for me. Looking back now, I realize that the poem I had to grudgingly memorize in 8th grade, The Road Not Taken, would profoundly influence and encourage my life. Often I was faced with “two roads” and over and over again I picked the least popular way. But now, as the poem relays, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Making a difference has been my battle cry since I can remember. Graduating college at 20 years old with a marketing degree, high aspirations, and a shiny new company car, I was ready to take on the world! California, here I come! The plethora of cardboard boxes which served as my faux furniture populated my apartment until I could afford a real table and chairs. It was now that I was really grown up and ready to not only make some real money, but hopefully change the world. After about one year of going from client to client and hearing, “No, thank you…..we have what we need,” I was unsure what my purpose served. That is when I headed straight to a professional career counselor.

Fast-forward about ten years. I did not quit my job, but I bided time for many unquenched years. Frustrated…empty…and truly marking time, I couldn’t understand how I was going to satisfy this yearning in my heart to turn my desire of “making a difference” into a reality. All of my friends, including me, were making tons of money, but I was miserable. This is when I knew I needed to take a different route. It was time to return to school and pursue a nagging passion for which I had been dissuaded from pursuing early on. “Why, Stephanie, would you want to go into a profession which doesn’t produce a high income?” Having the money and working countless hours on something that produced no internal rewards was leading me to a wasted life. No more time to waste. I knew if I did what I loved, the money would follow.

Teaching has proved to be the hardest job; much harder than any million-dollar producing business endeavor for which I had ever participated. However, I go home each day exhausted with a sense of satisfaction, warmth, and eternal perspective. I may not be raking in the dough as I had in my past (like the so-called “world” would desire), but I’m hopefully making more of a difference than I would pounding the pavement selling a product for which is unneeded.

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I; I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost knew that a grassy road may be unpopular, but sometimes, the grassy road wants wear. I will never fully know for whom I have helped or what mark I will have in this world, but I will now never regret my choices to be a bit “different” in order to make a difference.


My Future

There are three kinds of people in this world. The first person makes things happen. The second stands by and watches things as they happen, while the third person wonders what did happen! I am in the first category. My life has been a huge picture of achievement and drive. I have pursued many goals and achieve most everything I set my mind to do. I have now, however, reached a huge apex in my life. I have just begun a new career with new hopes and dreams.

With this said, I have not given up on the other dreams I have for my life. For instance, I have been pursuing a Masters in Divinity for years now. I am still in the process of doing so and I foresee completing this goal in a couple of years. With this, I plan on starting a large ministry at my church for women. The specifics have not been set, but will be more clear as time proceeds.

I also have dreams of continuing in the educational setting. This may mean staying in the classroom and teaching, but I predict I will move on to a leadership role, be it in administration or my own business. In the meantime, I plan to inspire and encourage young minds as I am so passionate about children in this crucial age group of 11-14.

My dreams and hopes for a family have not subsided. I do plan to get married and have at least one child. I would like to be a mother and nurture and love a family of my own. This means a dog, a house, and all the trimmings! I also would love to have a vacation home in the mountains up North. This would give our family the much needed rest and recovery we need.

As for my hopes….I hope to make a difference in peoples’ lives. This means my friends, my students and my family. I hope to lead people to live a better life with more hopes and dreams of their own. This means I must be a good example and live in the light. I hope to be that person as I grow. I look forward to the future and what is in store for me.