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Posted by on May 18, 2015 | 0 comments

Panthers and Not Perfect Hats


panther Collage1
See more images of our Not Perfect Hat Club adventures here:

Panthers are not the kind of animal you usually associate with kindness. They’re big, powerful  cats (weighing in at 130 to 160 lbs.) with a reputation for being stealthy and  efficient hunters. Happily, the panthers CritterKin has been working with for the past two years at  Nate Perry Elementary School in Liverpool, New York are a different breed of cat all together.  Open-minded, curious and eager to collaborate, the only things the educators at Nate Perry are interested in hunting are ways to expand and enhance their students’ worlds.

Nate Perry was one of the first to reach out to us about incorporating the CritterKin Kindness programs into their school, and have become beloved members of CritterKin’s growing global family.  The latest collaboration between CritterKin and Nate Perry is The Not Perfect Hat Club. The school helped us raise funds for the completion of the new “Not Perfect Hat Club” book and will be hosting a Not Perfect Hat Club Day at their school on May 26th.

In preparation for the big day, Ms. Jenaia stopped by Nate Perry via Google Hangouts to read the first chapter of the book and discuss what it means to be “Not Perfect.”  As always, the students’ responses were eye-opening and revealing. Some of the adjectives used to describe “Not Perfect” included “ugly, stupid, not happy, mad at myself,” and “not natural.”  Clearly students have internalized the belief that they are expected to be perfect, and judge themselves harshly when they can’t be.  In response, we share the “Famous Failures” video below with them, and had a good discussion afterwards about the importance of accepting that no one is perfect and that people learn by making mistakes.


Michael Jordan1

Click here or on the image above to see the video

Our time together ended with each student drawing and sharing a Not Perfect Hat that reflected what makes him or her perfectly Not Perfect. The students’ drawings were creative, playful and full of self-awareness. As one 5th grader put it, “I’m pretty outgoing and creative. I’m just me!”  We thought that was a perfect response!

If you would like to know more about CritterKin and the Not Perfect Hat Club, please visit: and

Better yet, bring the Not Perfect Hat Club to your school! To find out how, please give us a call or send us an email.  We’d love to have you and your school become members of the CritterKin family.


Jena Ball: (919) 454-9917




Copyright 2015 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.


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Posted by on May 10, 2015 | 0 comments

The Good, The Bad & Everything In Between

WIS and Dates

Creating a Global Network of
Connected, Colorful Educators in a Black and White World

 Historically, the world of education has been dominated by black-and-white, either-or-thinking. A student passes or fails, is an overachiever or an underachiever, is gifted or has special needs. The problem with this all-or-nothing thinking is that it polarizes and focuses us on what divides rather than what unites us.

Happily, as educators begin to reach outside their individual classrooms, schools and countries to connect with colleagues around the world, we are discovering that differences are to be embraced, explored and celebrated. As many of us like to say, “We are better together.”

 This week CritterKin will be co-moderating the #WhatIsSchool education chat where we will focus on the benefits of and strategies for creating a global network of connected educators whose many and diverse ways of seeing and being in the world are laying the foundation for positive change.

 We hope that we will be joined not only by educators but by businesses, organizations, government agencies, parents and anyone else who  understands that we all have a stake in what and how we teach our children.


 Welcome to #WhatisSchool Today we’re discussing what it takes to build a global education community and what it might look like.

Introductions: Please tell us who and where you are, and how you got into education.

Q1: How has education changed since you first started teaching and where do you see it heading?

Q2: If a globally connected network of educators appeals to you, tell us why. If not, tell us why not.

Q3: What are some themes or topics of interest you hear all educators talking about?

Q4: Why is it so important to share successes, failure and everything in between as we build our global network?

Q5:  How can student voices be woven into the the discussion? What role should students play in the process?

Q6: Give us one example of a colorful, global project that includes learning from success, failure and diversity.

Challenge: Share an idea or project you’re excited about & tell us how we can help. DM Jena to be added to our discussion group on Slack.

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Posted by on May 1, 2015 | 0 comments

Bridge 2 Nepal


I feel often that we don’t have the right language to talk about emotions in disasters. Everyone is on edge, of course, but it also pulls people away from a lot of trivial anxieties and past and future concerns and gratuitous preoccupations that we have, and refocuses us in a very intense way… In some ways, people behave better than in ordinary life and in some disasters people find [out about] the meaningful role of deep social connections and see their absence in everyday life.”   – Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell

Rebecca’s Solnit’s quote describes beautifully what we’ve been seeing and hearing as the educators we’ve come to know and respect as friends and colleagues in Nepal respond with courage, generosity and resilience to the devastating earthquake that hit their country last Saturday.

Like many of you, we at CritterKin and PledgeCents wanted to find a way to help support the work that will need to be done to rebuild the schools and support the teachers and children as they recover from the physical and psychological effects of the disaster. We also see this as a wonderful opportunity to bring our global education network together – to remind one another that we are not only better together but responsible for supporting and cheering one another on as well.

Our #Bridge2Nepal crowdfunding campaign is LIVE!  Visit: and help us rebuild the schools of Nepal one brick at a time.


Brick Wall-Framed2



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