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“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between their work and their play; their labor and their leisure; their mind and their body; their education and their recreation. They hardly know which is which. They simply pursue their vision of excellence through whatever they are doing, and leave others to determine whether they are working or playing. To themselves, they always appear to be doing both.”

–Francoise Rene Auguste Chateaubriand


Educational leadership has brought me as much joy and gratitude as other things in life which are not “work.” It is true, when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work…there is simply purpose, effort, and persistence.

I discovered through my doctoral research that gratitude and well-being are predictors of academic success among college students. After having my first daughter, I began to see the impact of teaching her appreciation and taking time to notice the little things in life. The impact of gratitude extends way before children begin school, it starts to develop as children’s sense of self is developing.

Young children are learning to say “Thank you ” around age two and three, however, a grateful perspective roots much deeper than just words. As their understanding of themselves develops, so can the appreciation of what goes well (and not well) in their day, and who and what circumstances contribute to such things. Teaching them to train their minds to notice the little things and value appreciation is a protective factor that can have positive outcomes throughout their lives. Research on teaching children gratitude has shown that children with grateful perspectives develop more optimistic and resilient attitudes.

Children with a grateful perspective experience:

  • Less negative emotions
  • Bounce back quicker from adversity
  • Report feeling better connected to school and family
  • Higher levels of well-being

There is a balance between all the important concepts our children need to learn and experience in the 21st century. Schools and parents have the challenge of integrating responsibilities, good judgement, critical thinking, effective communication, creativity, a sense of purpose, resiliency, and all the academic foundations that young minds need to thrive. There also must be time for families to simply connect and have fun together, without the need for anything else to be happening.

Balance is something I am always working with, realizing some days are meant for family time at the pool and others are for working on projects and leadership. I am grateful to have chosen a career path that aligns with my deepest values-  enjoying family, being a positive source for others, and living a meaningful life.

Currently, I am writing my first book, teaching part-time at Pepperdine, overseeing The Gratitude Garden Preschool, working as a co-investigator on The Youth in Gratitude Project, and scouting Southern California for our next location to build TESLA Country Day. It is a full and meaningful life.


GratitudeGarden4-300x157The Gratitude Garden Preschool is in San Clemente, California. Please visit the website for more enrollment information.

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TESLA Kindergarten is now in San Clemente! We are searching for our school site to add first through fifth grade.

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