Pages Menu
TwitterFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Sep 11, 2016 | 0 comments

The Mirror Turns…

mirror8

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” — W. Dyer

This quote by Wayne Dyer haunts me. It first appeared in my social media feed several years ago after a friend became homeless. Rather than search frantically for another minimum wage job, she chose to move into and start selling jewelry from her van. I was horrified. She, on the other hand, was strangely content. Instead of bemoaning her situation, she kept her focus on three goals: make and sell jewelry, meet and help good people, and find ways to overcome her health challenges.

Over the years, my friend’s adventures have taught me many things. I learned to look past outer appearances; to see homelessness as a symptom of how we are failing one another rather than an indication of how an individual has failed at life. I discovered that often it is those with the least who give the most — who refuse to look away, who show up and share their last cup of rice, who move heaven and earth to find a temporary home for a dog while his person is in the hospital…the list goes on and on.

Then eight months ago, the mirror of judgment turned on me. Suddenly I was the one without a penny to my name; the one who couldn’t find a job; the one who was eating nothing but oatmeal and facing eviction from my home. Everywhere I turned, people I thought were friends judged me harshly. They were annoyed that I wanted to talk about my predicament, and either offered unhelpful advice or disappeared all together.

At first, I was indignant and hurt. I was the same person I’d always been — the one working 50 or 60 hours a week to keep my business afloat — the one who was now devoting every waking moment to finding a job. But that didn’t seem to matter. It was as if I had become a pariah, a symbol of something they found pitiable or distasteful. Then it hit me. They were afraid. I was living their own worst nightmare, and they couldn’t get away from me fast enough.

As a recovering perfectionist, I was intimately acquainted with this mindset. I grew up judging myself and others by how I looked, how fast I swam and how I performed on tests. I learned that I was in competition with others for love, grades and jobs. My survival depended less on who I was than on how well I was able to please others. It took me many years, and lots of help, to get past this way of seeing and being in the world. Now, thanks to a simple twist of fate (and we all have them), it was my turn to love and validate myself — to ask for help and accept it knowing I was not only worth it, but would be able to pay it forward one day.

Today, Wayne Dyer’s quote reappeared and I have the chance to make that payment. I have been asked to help a friend of a friend named Lisa; someone whose story is long and complex. All you really need to know is that she is a good, kind, hardworking soul who has been diagnosed with NINDS Nuromyelitis Optica (NMO). NMO is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system in which the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells and proteins in the body. It is both excruciatingly painful and incurable. As a result of her condition, and her attempts to find medical care, Lisa is homeless and living in her truck with her best canine buddy Bella-Boo. The good news is that Lisa has both a job and a place to live lined up if she can get the money needed to repair her truck and pay the deposit for her apartment. The even better news is that we have the chance to make this happen together. It doesn’t have to be a lot. It doesn’t even have to be money. It can be as simple as forwarding this post to someone with a note saying, “thought you might be able to help.”

Let’s be there for Lisa and for ourselves. Let’s see past the labels and remind one another that we are better together, and that what helps one helps us all.
- Jena Ball

To read Lisa’s story and donate, go here:https://www.gofundme.com/2gs2aknt

To learn more about her condition, go here:http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/neuromyelitis_optica/neuromyelitis_optica.htm

 

Copyright 2016 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.

Read More

Posted by on Sep 26, 2015 | 0 comments

Jena Ball – Every Author’s Dream

Signing Book with Mason2

Every Author’s Dream

by

Jena Ball

This Wednesday, September 23rd I had the good fortune to be invited to share my new book, The Not Perfect Hat Club, with the 600+ students at Pine Valley Elementary School in Wilmington, NC plus an additional 15 classes from five countries around the world.

I read, fielded questions, signed books and had held some Not Perfect Hat Club drawing and discussion sessions with 2nd. 3rd and 4th. graders. The kids knocked my socks off with their honesty, insights and creativity, proving yet again that given the chance they’ll shine.

Mason and Book

But the most wonderful moment of all occurred almost 24 hours after my visit. It arrived via Twitter and was posted by the grandmother of the little boy in the picture above. “Mason fell asleep last night with his treasured signed book!” said Amy Riggs.  The book he is holding close to his heart is the  The Not Perfect Hat Club.

There’s no greater compliment for a writer than the love of a child, and in this case it was doubly sweet because I had met and chatted with Mason during my visit to Pine Valley. It was also a reminder that the message I am sharing in The Not Perfect Hat Club is one that children respond to and need to hear.

I hope you will all read The Not Perfect Hat Club and share its message with your family and friends. Let’s help raise a generation of kids who understand that there is no such thing as perfect, but each and every one of us has something special to share with the world.

Read and excerpt and get a copy here: http://bit.ly/1KEA54Q

Read More

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 | 0 comments

Q & A in Illinois

Q and A with Jena VVSD1
Click HERE or On the Image Above to Watch a Q and A with second and third graders in Illinois

There’s nothing better than talking to kids, and I always make sure to leave some time for them to ask questions. I’ve been asked everything from my age to whether or not I think I was a dog before, so almost nothing fazes me. The one thing they never seem to expect is when I ask a question of my own. It’s only fair, right?

In addition to in-person and virtual visits via GHO Skype, I’ve done quite a few real-time Twitter chats. Just another way to engage and give kids the chance to practice their writing skills. One hundred and forty characters is a challenge for everyone!

To Schedule Your Own Visit, Contact Me:

Email: JenaBall@CritterKin.com

Phone: (919) 615 – 0666

Read More

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 | 0 comments

Spending Time in Texas

Ms Jenaia Hugs2 Framed 1000x746
Click HERE or on Image to Read About My Visit to Warren Elementary

It’s true what they say about Texas. Everything is a little bit bigger there, including the hearts of the people. I spent an amazing two days with the teachers and students at Warren Elementary, after more than a year of working with them virtually. Don’t get me wrong. I love virtual visits, but there’s nothing quite like being hugged by 600 kids to make your heart happy.

Thank you to all the wonderful folks who collaborated to make this happen. You can read all about my visit here: http://critterkin.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Tyler-County-Booster-ARticle1.pdf

To learn more about how you can bring CritterKin to your school, visit the Program Page: http://critterkin.com/programs-and-fees/

And don’t forget to check out the amazing stories of joyful collaboration and project based learning here: http://critterkin.com/success-stories/

Read More

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 | 0 comments

Jena Ball – Catapulted

 

 

Catapulted800x600

 

Catapulted – Education Goes Global

Until about two years ago, I told anyone who asked me that I was a writer. Since I’ve spent the better part of my life penning everything from marketing material and textbooks to speeches for SONY’s founder Akio Morita, this made perfect sense, except for one thing. The brightly colored thread stitching everything together has been education. Whether it was creating custom ESL manuals for Japanese businessmen traveling to the States or developing an online writing course for “underachieving” teens in Nevada, education has been central to my writing life.

Then in 2013 I came up with the idea for a series of children’s books called CritterKin. I loved the idea of giving kids a chance to experience the world through the eyes of a pack of mixed breed dogs. Animals (critters) have always felt like family (kin) to me, and have been some of my most loyal friends and teachers.  However, I had no idea that CritterKin would catapult me out of my comfy writer’s niche into the arena of global education.

Within weeks after publishing the first CritterKin book, Poco a Poco, I was reading to kids at local summer camps and elementary schools. Within six months I was not only reading, but developing projects designed to translate the messages in the books into empowering, real-world experiences. When I began connecting with educators from all parts of the world via Twitter, and accepting invitations to visit classrooms around the world via Skype and GHO, I abandoned all pretense of being “just a writer.” It was clear that my words and work were being sewn into the fabric of a larger movement – a movement being fashioned by the many colorful and creative souls determined to transform what it means to be “educated.”

Which brings me to the point of this post. The seed was fittingly planted in #WhatisSchool and sustained by comments from educators in #Edtechbridge, #INZpired #NT2t, #Sunchat and #AussieEd, and is as simple as it is elegant.

We can no longer afford to support education systems that are competitive, hierarchical and perpetuate the illusion that certain people are better or more deserving than others. We must abandon the one size fits all manufacturing model for education that quality tests kids like cars on an assembly line. But most important of all, we must accept that each child, each human being, is unique and has something of value to contribute to the world.

What does this mean in practical terms?

  • First and foremost it means abandoning the belief that we are in competition with one another and coming together as a global community;
  • It means accepting that education, like the rest of life, is an iterative process. Not only is there no one right way to teach, but the ways will always change and evolve based on the unique circumstances and needs of our students;
  •  It means sharing our successes, failures and everything in between so that we all benefit; and
  • It means acknowledging that we have as much to learn from our students as they from us. Sometimes a child’s perspective is exactly what is needed to tackle a particular task or problem See: http://www.ted.com/talks/adora_svitak?language=en

And so I leave you with this challenge. How will you, as a 21st century educator, connect with and contribute your voice and your gifts to the global community we are forging? How will you “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy” as Ms. Frizzle would say, so that all children are given the chance to explore their innate gifts and share them with the world?

Read More

Posted by on Jun 15, 2015 | 0 comments

Jena Ball – There’s Something About Rainbows

There's something about Rainbows

The flight from Raleigh, North Carolina to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was short, comfortable and drenched in late afternoon sunlight until we began our descent. Then rain clouds abruptly reduced visibility to zero and we had a wet and rocky ride until we broke through them just above the runway. Our reward was a rainbow that appeared to have attached itself to the left wing of the plane and escorted us all the way to our gate.

Now I’m a sucker for rainbows. I’ve come to see them not only as a sign all is right with the world, but as a harbinger of good things to come as well. This particular rainbow,  plucked from the clouds at 10,000 feet, did not disappoint. I took it as the gift that it was, promising a wonderful visit with the kids and teachers at John R. Tibbott Elementary School.

I was met at the airport by one of my favorite folks in education – Erin (the librarian) Preder: @butterfli820 . I’ve known Erin for a couple of years now. She was one of the first to read the CritterKin books and see their potential to teach empathy, compassion and kindness. CritterKin’s mission, to integrate those story-driven lessons into real life experiences, dovetailed nicely with the school’s “Kindness Garden,” where students were learning how food is grown and finds its way to our tables.

Erin took CritterKin to her Principal, a forward thinking educator named Ana Wilson, who gave us her approval and practical support. Together Erin and I devised a system that allowed me to read, write, draw and even dance with her students using my computer in North Carolina. It wasn’t perfect, but no one was complaining. As Erin put it after our first year working together, “CritterKin was really the most enjoyable experience I have ever had in my 17 years as an educator. I wouldn’t change what we did, and I’d do it all over in a heartbeat!”  Now there I was, about to meet my collaborator and friend, as well as all the teachers and kids who had become like family.

Oddly enough, the whole experience felt like deja vu. I’d seen many parts of the school before – the library, garden and a few of the classrooms – but never had the chance to see them in relation to the rest of the campus. The office and gym were smaller than I’d imagined, while the hallways and grounds of the school seemed enormous. The things that felt absolutely right in every way were the smiles of the kids.

There’s really no way to thank someone for sharing your dream and going out of her way to help you realize it. I can tell you that Erin is a committed, caring and creative educator; that her enthusiasm and ability to motivate others are inspirational; that she is an excellent writer and presenter in her own right; and all of that would be true.  But you really have to experience Erin for yourself to get the full effect.

So here, without further ado, is Part I of the video I made of  the conversation between myself, Erin and Ana Wilson. I hope it will help you understand what motivated Erin to push to bring CritterKin to her school, and inspire you to do something similar at yours. Our kids deserve to have educators like Erin and Ana in their lives – educators who believe in their abilities and are committed to helping them grow into caring, compassionate adults. Thank you Erin for all that you do, but most especially for who you are!

Why CritterKin - Erin and Ana

Click HERE or on the image above to watch the video.

For Information  Contact

Karin Lippert
Phone: 647 – 478 – 5618
Email: Karin.Lippert76@gmail.com

Copyright 2015 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.

Read More