Practicing Gratitude

This next week is American Thanksgiving.  In preparing for the week and starting to think about what Thanksgiving really means, I’ve been reading a lot about gratitude and why it is so important in our (and our students’) lives.  

“Having a sense of purpose in life gives youth a compass for creating a meaningful life. As adults, it’s our job to help kids discover their passions and to find a path to purpose that resonates with them— with their values, interests, and dreams. This starts with feeding their interests in the social issues they care about and pushing them to learn as much as they can about those issues and discover ways they can make a difference. The deepest sense of gratitude in life comes from connecting to a bigger picture, to an issue that matters to others and doing things that contribute to society down the road.

Trying to make grateful kids isn’t just an issue for families; it’s an issue for society as well. Society desperately needs to harness the power of gratitude. As our world becomes more culturally diverse and digitally connected, and as complex societal problems mount, gratitude may help catalyze the motivation and skills youth need to succeed not just academically but in the ‘life test’ too. We must all do our part to help kids develop into moral adults, who will contribute to a world of compassion and care. But, while there’s no quick fix for cultivating gratitude in young people, the more we remain committed to it, the more rewards we’ll reap. Indeed, by bringing out the best in our kids, we can only imagine what blessings Generation Grateful could bring. Anything worthwhile takes a lot of time and effort. It’s up to all of us to make it happen.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I decided to let the Great Good Science Center say it for me.  This quote comes from an article on their site called Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids.  

As we come down the homestretch of this first half of the year it is easy to get caught up in rushing toward that December holiday; it’s understandable with High School exams coming up, end of the semester projects looming, and the beach, family, or other travels just four weeks away 🙂  

Take some time this week (and every week!) to stop and reflect for yourself.  Gratitude isn’t just something for the kids, it is important for everyone.  There is a lot of research that shows that “very happy people” are happy because of their ability to be grateful for what they have around them.  Whether it’s the relationships they build, through practicing “radical gratitude”, or just because they are happy at their job, gratitude surrounds each of us, we just need to stop and smell the flowers once in awhile!  

Enjoy the week and Thank You for all that you do!!!

Dia de Acción de Gracias

Thursday was an absolutely amazing day for me as an educator and as an Academia Cotopaxi community member.  From the beginning of the day right through until I fell into a turkey induced night of sleep, I was riding a high of joy and thankfulness.  Our community came together for a beautiful and impressive day of gratitude and celebration.  It was inspiring to say the least.

A while back a few of us had the idea to create Cougar Buddies and match our older students with younger classrooms for the sake of building community and sharing in each other’s learning.  On Thursday we saw this vision become a reality in many inspiring ways, some unprecedented in this community.  Stories of our older kids working with our younger students have spread all over campus and, even better, those older students are telling stories of how they were inspired by the younger kids!

It was a little bittersweet for me because I missed all of the amazing interactions that were happening here on campus.  However, missing those interactions was more than made up for because I accompanied our amazing 9th grade class to IMAGINE Valley for a morning of giving thanks and play.


I’m not sure I’ve been able to find the words to adequately describe the amazing experience that was had by every single person on that campus yesterday.  From our 9th graders to the IMAGINE students and on to the teachers and staff who were able to witness the sights and sounds of pure joy…it was flat out amazing!


In the four years since our IMAGINE Valley campus has been open we have never managed to get students down there to visit.  This 9th grade group was the first assembly of AC students to make the trip.  When we left, we had to pull some of those 9th graders away kicking and screaming…they had fallen in love within minutes of our arrival.


To see the way our high school students so quickly got involved and, literally, got their hands dirty was truly a beautiful experience.


The tears from IMAGINE Valley students when we had to leave was evidence that our impact was felt during the short stay on their campus.  Equally obvious was the effect those kids had on our 9th graders as the whole bus ride back to school was filled with positive emotions and requests to return to the valley for more opportunities to interact.


This year’s Thanksgiving experience gave me a lot to be thankful for on that day in particular.  However, there is a lot that I am thankful for day in and day out at AC.  The staff, students, and families who comprise this wonderful community make being a member of the Academia Cotopaxi family an absolute honor.  Thanksgiving was evidence of the power of this community to come together and create such an amazing and beautiful experience for our students.


Thank you to everyone who plays a part in making this community so awesome.  Whether support staff, student, teacher, or parent, everyone is important to making Academia Cotopaxi the wonderful place it has become.  Thank you!!!