"It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is best able to adapt and adjust..." - Leon C. Megginson, Interpreting Darwin

So much of our focus in education continues to be teaching to and celebrating the intellect.  Daniel Goleman introduced Emotional Intelligence and our work has been in the area of Social Emotional Learning for the past 47 years.  In 1997, Dr. Paul Stoltz introduced the concept of Adversity Quotient.  AQ, according to Stoltz, is a valid predictor of performance, ability to deal with stress and challenge, resilience, pressure and health.  Those of us with a high AQ can withstand significant adversity, maintain perspective, stay flexible and creative, enhance self esteem in the face of challenge and use adversity to move forward.  - Stephen Cope, Soul Friends

Perseverance in the face of adversity is one of my highest valued and most admired characteristics.  Some of my perseverance role models are Viktor Frankl, Bob Wieland, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and Sandra and Ashley Stecher.  One of the keys to perseverance is a belief in something greater than you, a higher calling, a greater sense of purpose, coupled with love and deep commitment to relationship.  I have seen this perseverance, fueled by unconditional love as Sandra has cared for Ashley these past 37 years.  Because of undiagnosed learning difference in her youth, my wife Sandra does not think of herself as "smart."  She is the most brilliant socially and emotionally intelligent person I know.  Her ability to persevere and be lovingly resilient is world class.  My life, my work, our family and many others are dependent on her social emotional intelligence, perseverance and unconditional love.


Stories are the wealth of humanity.  There have been times in my life when my pockets and wallet are empty.  There has never been a time when my heart and soul were empty.

My life has been full of story and I feel a legacy, a calling, to pass them on.  They carry the essential truth and meaning of life.  My life and I believe, your life.  Our stories are connected.  Each telling of our story renews our lives.  And each retelling of the story brings us healing.

I have told and retold the story of our daughter Ashley's life over and over again.  Here lessons are deep, profound, and meaningful.  I find telling her story gives permission to others to tell their story.  When people listen to Ashley's story, they allow themselves to be vulnerable and in this vulnerability, healing begins.  Every telling of Ashley's story re-opens my heart and it opens the hearts of all who listen. 

Before I speak to an audience, large or small, I close my eyes, go inside and pray, "Please God, your will, not mine be done."  I am free, I am open, I am healed and with the Grace of God, the story I tell brings healing to you. 


The definition of Integrity is "steadfast adherence to a moral code."  Integrity has it's roots in the latin integritas, from integer, whole - meaning "the quality or condition of being whole or undivided; complete."

Integrity is an ongoing active, life long practice of staying undivided in an effort to become whole.  

My life has been blessed with many role models for integrity.  My father, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, have all been men and women of courage who stood for the core values of integrity.

Throughout my life and work, I have always tried to create circles of trust that allowed participants to build a community.  In these classroom communities, we have participants develop a sense of authenticity and vulnerability.  

Integrity builds trust.  Research in education has proven that high relational trust and trust building allow schools to better serve students.  (Bryk and Schneider, Trust in Schools, 2004) . Trust holds schools together and trust holds relationships together.

"Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it's choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and it's practicing your values, not just professing them." - Brene Brown

"Integrity is an unending process of letting our inner experience and our outer experience complete each other, in spite of our human lapses." - Mark Nepo


"Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution.  Until we stop harming each other living beings, we are still savages." - Thomas A. Edison

"Nonviolence is the summit of bravery." - Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi encouraged us to "be the peace we want to see in the world".  Unity is our only chance of survival.  Every voice, every heart, every action, matters.  We live in challenging times.  We can not afford to ignore or numb our emotions through passively sitting at a computer or watching a TV screen.  The world will change when we change.  

We must be conscious of our thoughts.  Our thoughts become our words, in all our various forms of communication.  Social media can not be our only form of sharing our truth.  Any action can become habitual.  We must be aware of our actions and our habits.  Our actions and our habits speak to our values and our beliefs.  What we value and believe creates our destiny.  

In my adolescence I was aware of and influenced by and came to honor the civil rights movement.  Early in my professional career, I was a passionate teacher in the addictions and recovery process.  For the past 47 years, my work and mission has been in whole child education and Social Emotional Learning.  Every day we must get up and take action.  Act on our beliefs and values.  Act to honor all life.  Act to bring peace and love into the world.

Every day, every moment is an opportunity to love.

"You do not need to do anything to be loved.  
You do not have to perform, or achieve, or earn a merit badge, or be witnessed doing good." 
- Mark Nepo

My life is devoted to helping each of us and myself understand we are all worthy of love just because we are.  Our birth right is love, to love and be loved.  Every interaction is an opportunity to love.  A respectful handshake, a pat on the back, a hug and deeply paying attention and listening to someone.  We need to be aware, we need to be conscious.  There are no small actions.  Everything we do, everything we say, everything we think and feel, matters to someone.  

Every day, every moment is an opportunity to love.