Houston Kraft was just the voice we needed in our 46,000 student school district! Clear Creek Independent School District adopted a set of Core Values several years ago that guide our decisions, actions and character, and we are deeply committed to the social and emotional well-being and safety of our students. Our work with Houston has been tremendously instrumental in providing our staff with not only the motivation to stay committed to this work, but the resources and ideas to bring it to life. Houston Kraft has facilitated learning at our What’s In Your Heart? Character Conference, and our district wide rally. In addition, he has worked with all of our intermediate teachers to support the use of the Character Strong curriculum. And, we are super excited that he will be working with over 2,600 high school students in January 2019. We absolutely love working with Houston. His energy, passion and love for all things kind is infectious! We look forward to a long partnership with him.
Stephanie McBride | Executive Director for Professional Learning
Clear Creek ISD
People are still talking about the inspiring message they heard from our beginning of the year staff assembly. Houston’s inspiring words, motivational wisdom, and personal demeanor came at the right time for our school district. We had recently revamped our strategic framework, and his time with us correlated perfectly to our district’s desires to prepare kids for college, the workplace, and life.
Emily Conklin, CPC
Executive Director of Communications
Houston Kraft is the best motivational/inspirational speaker we have brought to our school in my 11 years. He is affiliated with CharacterStrong, which is a character development program and curriculum that began right here in WA State. This is the second year in a row we had him speak to our students. Both years he also did a student leadership workshop where he worked with 40 selected students in a 90 minute workshop. With our students he talked about kindness and love. He talked about how we can choose those actions and behaviors. He teaches them skills to be more relational. His message to middle school through high school is spot on.
What he is about is creating a culture of kindness and putting an emphasis on relationships and how our experience as people is shaped more strongly by our interactions with others than by the curriculum we’re taught in school (he does this without devaluing the knowledge we teach in school). In fact, he says you can’t have one without the other in life to be successful and happy. But, he also quoted several authors who claim that a typical school only offers students about 50% of what they need and that what used to be considered ‘soft skills’ (perseverance, communication, leadership, resiliency- to name a few) are the new ‘hard skills’.
The most powerful event for me this year was he also did a 1 hour staff workshop. During this he spoke directly to us all about our responsibility and provided a much needed reminder about Why we do what we do. He quoted research about our personalities being mostly established by age 6, but our moral character can be grown and developed if we teach kids how to do it. He even asked us to come up with One Word to answer this question: What do I want my students to FEEL and Remember when they walk out of my classroom? Even if you didn’t do an all school assembly, the hour with your staff would be well worth it!
Jesse Hardt - Horizon MS
It was great to have Houston back to speak and work with our kids. Our students enjoyed his message, "Make Kindness Normal'. Our ASB officers have even ordered wristbands with his message to give to our student body. Houston connects so well with the students. He is engaging and sincere. His message is simple and yet so important. Our students relate to him and are able to make the connection in their own lives. We always love having Houston visit our school and look forward to seeing him again.
Kris Henry - Harbour Pointe MS
I was driving into Seattle late Monday afternoon and was in the usual traffic snarl beginning around Greenlake. As I passed under 50th Street, cars changed lanes to go around a stalled van in the second lane from the left.
My impulse was to pull over, jump out of my car, run across traffic, get the driver to throw it into neutral, and start pushing the van out of traffic. Just the vision of that impulse caused some minor terror- the fear of judgment, the fear of invoking someone’s anger, the fear of being seen doing something unusual. I did not stop.
And, of course, this is exactly what our friend, Houston Kraft, talked about when he visited on Tuesday. What keeps us from acts of kindness is our fear. It is a fear, he says, we are not born with, but that we develop over time as we experience, suffering, pain, loss, grief.
I have been fortunate to have been in a six-year conversation with Houston. The actual talking happens only periodically, but it feels like a place of learning where vulnerability and not being the hero in your own story is ever-present. Each reminder deepens my own meaning making, largely because Houston’s message comes through stories of his own imperfections, mistakes, and regrets.
Kindness has become a bit of a guilty pleasure, as some poets and philosophers have posited. I am not sure why it appears that way to them- kindness seems practical and necessary in a complex, and, at times, mean world. I am grateful Houston’s reminders of my own imperfections and the steady progress I am making becoming a better human.
Scott Mauk - Edmonds Heights K-12, WA