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I have a lot of happy colleagues this week. Is it the long weekend? No – school started!

Are you ready to get the school year off to a good start? Meet Rita Pierson.

Rita F. Pierson has had a long career in education, but it began years before she ever had her own classroom. Like other teachers, she followed her parents and grandparents into the teaching profession. You would think that following her family history would mean sticking to tried and true methods. However, you’ll only hear a cutting edge perspective in her TED Talk, “Every Kid Needs a Champion.”

Where’s the focus on curriculum and testing, you ask? Yes it’s important, but it is the connection between teacher and student, not the subject itself, which should take precedence. Yale Child Study Center professor Dr. James Comer said, “No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.” He built on George Washington Carver’s statement of, “All learning is understanding relationships.”

Ms. Pierson once had a colleague who defiantly told her, “They don’t pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. I should teach it. Kids should learn it. Case closed!”

She calmly told her, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Let me leave you with the power words Ms. Pierson used with some of her most challenging classes. These beliefs are a good way to start the day, even if you don’t have kids or aren’t going to school right now.

She’s delightful – enjoy!

I am somebody.

I was somebody when I came.

I’ll be a better somebody when I leave.

I am powerful and I am strong.

I deserve the education that I get here.

I have things to do, people to impress and places to go.