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