Nurturing Hearts & Noggins Promoting academic, social, and emotional learning for lifelong success Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Black History throughout the Year Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:04:00 +0000
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Read/explore a different Black history fact each day of the school year
  • Explore African American art; visit African American museums
  • Dig deeper into a specific era of Black history (Jim Crow, Harlem Renaissance, etc.).
  • Have students read and research African American children's books
  • Explore the Brown vs. Board of Education (Topeka, KS) case
  • Focus  on the progress of African Americans in sports (baseball, track, and basketball)
  • Have students write a speech/essay to share their dreams and aspirations

For additional ideas for your classroom, please check out:

Black Museums
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture
10 Ideas for Teaching Black History
7 Fresh Ideas for Black History Month



The Great Kindness Challenge Tue, 24 Jan 2017 21:04:00 +0000 British writer, Henry James once said, "Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." Well, this week thousands of students across the country are taking this to heart. They are participating in an amazing opportunity to be 'difference makers,' as they have accepted "The Great Kindness Challenge." The challenge allows young people to offer up tremendous doses of kindness throughout the week, while they learn about the numerous benefits of kindness, become conscientious of their actions toward others, and utilize their creativity to make a difference. For more information on this opportunity, be sure to check out:

While the notion of kindness may seem second nature, simple or arbitrary to some, for others it takes intentionality and thought. However it comes about, it sure does pay dividends. So, let us turn the choice to be kind into a habit and reap the benefits. In several studies, scholars have found that kindness:

a.  May have profound long-term effects on our happiness
b.  Creates a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism
c.  Positively impacts the emotional well-being of ourselves and others
d.  Benefits our psychological neural circuitry... in other words, it is really good for the brain
e.  It is contagious.  It inspires kindness in others

With benefits like those, please feel free to pay me in kindness any day. Although it is unrealistic to think that each day we are going to wake up in a great mood, ready to take on the day with kindness. However, when we make kindness a part of our everyday lives, it becomes a part of the innate spirit of who we are. When we offer kindness, we contribute to a world that is less harsh, less critical, less unforgiving, less ungrateful, less happy, and more joyful. Offering kindness is a wonderful way to nurture the hearts and noggins of others, but it does your body good as well.

Feel free to start simple:

a.  Smile and say hello to random people you see or pass by
b.  Say 'thank you' to public service officials and workers
c.  Pay for the order of the car behind you in the drive-thru (I did this one yesterday, and it felt AMAZING!)
d.  Offer to allow someone to go ahead of you in the store check-out lane
e.  Shovel your neighbor's driveway

Ok, I just offered up a few ideas to get started. So, are you ready? On your mark, get set, GO KINDNESS!





2. Science.May 09.pdf


Mentoring: A Great Way to Nurture Hearts and Noggins Sun, 22 Jan 2017 23:34:00 +0000 Mentoring brings us together – across generation, class, and often race –
in a manner that forces us to acknowledge our interdependence, to appreciate,
in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words, that 'we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied to a single garment of destiny.'
In this way, mentoring enables us to participate in the essential
but unfinished drama of reinventing community,
while reaffirming that there is an important role for each of us in it.
-- Marc Freedman

Happy New Year and welcome back to the Nurturing Hearts & Noggins blog! To kick off 2017, lets discuss one of my favorite topics: mentoring! To commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 16th, many people around the country decided to take part in service projects; some participated in "Mentor for a Day" programs with youth-serving organizations, while others may have decided to start a mentor program. Either choice, what a wonderful way to give back. Moreover, January is, that's right you guessed it, National Mentoring Month. So, how does mentoring help to nurture hearts and noggins? Here are a few interesting findings about the benefits of mentoring:

a.  High quality mentoring relationships positively influence youth's personal, academic, and professional development

b.  Youth engage in healthier relationships and make healthier lifestyle choices

c.  Young people are more motivated to attend school and engage in academics

d.  They have increased self-confidence and self-esteem

e.  Youth set higher educational goals

f.  They build stronger, positive connections with peers, parents, and teachers

g.  And, youth have less adverse, problem behaviors

That is great news, right? Perhaps, you have experienced additional benefits; please share them with us in the comments section. Which mentoring programs are you familiar with or have been a part of? How has mentoring helped you and/or your child to develop socially and emotionally?

If you are interested in inspiring a child through the art of mentoring or simply interested in learning more about it, please be sure to check out:

Teachers: Don't Forget to Love Yourself Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:09:00 +0000 As I've been out working with and talking to teachers this month, aside from witnessing the hard work and tremendous efforts exerted, one consistency that I've seen is "drained" teachers. As the official "month of love" winds down, teachers must not forget to love themselves throughout the year, by making themselves a priority. As with anything, if you're not properly taking care of yourself, it is difficult to continue being effective in the classroom. With many educators gearing up for the PARCC test next month, now is a perfect time to remember this. While I'm typically engaging with teachers about the social and emotional needs of youth, adults must also be mindful of their social and emotional needs. Taking time to reflect on current efforts and future goals, while hitting the "pause button," can be tremendously beneficial for teachers (and their students).

Try these tips for getting a bit more "me" time:

  • Make your social and emotional needs a priority
  • Schedule time just for yourself
  • Sleep! Rest well!
  • Take time to celebrate your teaching (and students' learning) successes
  • Integrate activities into your curricula that allow you and your students to relax a bit (i.e. games, reflection journals, mindfulness exercises)
  • Give yourself time to reflect on why you entered the teaching profession and why you love education

So, as the month of February comes to an end, remember, any month is a good month to love yourself—your social and emotional health will thank you!

Is Emotional Intelligence the Key to Behavior Modification? Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:07:00 +0000 Emotional Intelligence, parents, child care providers, and teachers alike have been fascinated by what it reveals about behavior, rational and emotional thinking, health and well-being, relationships, leadership, and lifelong success. 

Knowing that we all have a stake in the compelling inter-workings of psychology and neuroscience research, a few key pointers have been identified to place in teachers' and parents' arsenals to build emotional intelligence in young people.  And quite notably, building emotional intelligence in children has proven to help regulate emotions and modify negative behavior.

Some key steps include:
  • Model excellent emotional intelligence for children to emulate
  • Acknowledge children's perspectives; allow for self-expression and validate their feelings
  • Coach children to understand their stress and/or anger triggers
  • Equip children with appropriate responses to their emotional triggers
  • Encourage children to engage in activities to burst their stress and/or anger bubbles; teach problem solving

The time is always right to nurture and support emotional intelligence.  Doing so helps children to manage their behavior, develop empathy, understand their emotions, develop healthy expression, and it equips them with constructive solutions for effective problem solving.


For more information about emotional intelligence, please check out Daniel Goleman's body of work!

For additional information about social and emotional learning, please contact Dr. Durriyyah Kemp at or 708-449-4320.

No Voice Left Behind Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:57:00 +0000 With the onset of recent and on-going protests and marches for civil rights and justice, it is clear how imperative it is for individuals to be heard and feel that they matter. This desire has resonated with many as they have mobilized in unity to have their voices heard. Students in the classroom are not too different. They want to be heard and feel that they matter. Perhaps we can all recall a time (or two) when we were too afraid to raise our hand to ask a question, or state our opinion, due to fear of what others may think if they heard our voice. However, when our learning environments cater to learners and their respective voices, it is ripe for respecting, inquiring, exploring, sharing, growing, debating, and learning.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Teach students to appreciate and learn across differences. Instead of teaching them to "tolerate" difference, teach them to value difference in a way that promotes the beauty of it.
  • Facilitate learning in a differentiated classroom. Guide student learning in an environment that is "just right" for them. Just as we do not all look alike or act alike, we do not all learn alike. Let's be creative and diversify our teaching strategies.
  • Inspire your students to want more. Empower your students to do more.

So, how will you inspire your students to own their voice and let others hear them?

How will you empower them to take another child's hand to support and encourage them to use their voice?

Creating a space that is filled with support and kindness is a wonderful goal to begin with in 2015. Cheers to starting the new calendar year with enhanced spaces for learning (and teaching)… No voice left behind.

Giving Thanks and Paying It Forward Mon, 24 Nov 2014 21:19:00 +0000 In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let's revisit ways that we can cultivate an attitude of gratitude and giving. As this year winds down, and we reflect on our successes, near-successes, lessons learned, and the overall busyness of our lives, it's important to take time to reflect on all that we are grateful for. This attitude can become quite natural and like second nature with some practice. Here are a few ideas:

  • Make a list of all you're thankful for.
  • Each day, write down everything or the names of everyone who made you smile.
  • Pay it forward. Never miss an opportunity to do something nice for someone else.
  • Write a thank you letter to someone.
  • Give smiles! They're free!
  • Celebrate your own success and the successes of others.
  • Need to de-clutter? Give away your gently used items, toys, and clothing you no longer wear.
  • Find new opportunities to volunteer. Share your gifts.
  • Be extraordinary… just because J.

I'm so excited to put social and emotional learning in action. I'm getting started on this list now!

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!