This month, Ronit ran another parenting workshop at Upper Mount Gravatt State School. This school has had several workshops already, in which parents, teachers and non-teaching staff participated, but they keep coming back for more. Next month, Ronit will deliver a special professional development for the teachers of several schools in its school cluster.
As always, Ronit was introduced to the participants warmly by Derek Brady, the principal of the school. When he was done, I asked him to say a few words about his experiences with Ronit and particularly the results his school was getting out of them. I have put his answers below in text and video, but saved you the agony of my own voice, which hardly came out (I was pretty sick).
Mental health is a big concern in Australia, especially depression and particularly in young people. The Commonwealth Government recognizes this problem and has started, among other things, a program called Kids Matter, which guides schools in discovering, analyzing and solving any mental health problems.
Derek is a great believer in emotional intelligence, so Upper Mount Gravatt State School is getting the most out of working with Kids Matter. In fact, the school has done so well is has won awards for leadership in mental health for the past 2 years.
But Kids Matter only provides the framework and incentives for focusing on mental health. The school still has to choose good services and good providers to make real impact and Derek has chosen Ronit to run Happy Parents Raise Happy Kids and Happy Teachers – Happy Students.
Having a life coach attached to your school as a school partner has huge implications
Q: Why did you engage Ronit in the first place?
Derek: Being part of Kids Matter and focusing on mental health, we saw a real need for that to be across the whole school and Ronit’s influence is in all of that stuff. We’ve already had 100% of our staff trained in Be Happy in LIFE coaching. We’ve also had 60 parents trained. That has huge impact, because it creates “spin-offs” – the common language we’re using through the school, it’s just helping with the wellbeing and, ultimately, the learning outcomes.
Q: What are the main benefits you see out of Ronit’s involvement?
Derek: The main improvement I see is the behavior of our children. I haven’t had a suspension in 4 years, there’s no Detention room, the attitude of the kids, there’s a real happiness around the school, kids really vibrant, bouncing around. I see kids handling issues and being more resilient. I see families using common language and staff using the same language and having a positive mindset and approaching things from a very positive angle.
Q: Are there any specific comments you can share with us from parent’s feedback?
Derek: They just love the workshops. They come away feeling inspired. I had my P&C (Parents and Citizens – PTA) President last year come up to me and say “My husband has to do this. We need to work at things and we can be a happier family if we do this”. People have come up to me and said their kids are doing better because of that. Teachers have said “I had an issue in class, but I thought about the Pink Elephants or about the way I can approach this staying calm” and it has really helped them in their day-to-day dealings with kids and in their own lives.
Q: Can you share something about how the workshops have affected your own life?
Derek: I’d love to. In my family, I knew there were a few blockers happening with my daughter. I remember this little activity we do, called the “I believe in you” letter, and I remember after the workshop, I emailed my daughter and told her how much I loved her and how much I believed in her and that was the catalyst to change some of the things that followed from there. I think I realized then that you can’t change your children, you can’t create a perfect world, but you can do is share how you really feel and share how much you care about them, so that was one of the real winners for me. 12 months down the track since doing the course, I feel that relationship building and getting stronger and stronger, so it’s definitely helped us as a family.
Q: How would you describe Ronit as a presenter?
Derek: She’s really interesting. She’s got this really zany way of putting things. You can sit and listen to her for hours and she just brings things from a different angle that you haven’t thought of. She doesn’t preach at you – it’s not one of these courses where you get told how to be a better parent – she gets to be focus on how to be happy. She’s also very flexible – she allowed you to be different and do things in the way that you want to engage.
Q: What would you tell other school principals?
Derek: I would be advising them to think about how they can use someone like Ronit Baras. I think having a life coach attached to your school as a school partner has huge implications. It builds up capacities in the family community, parents are on the same page as the school and life coaching really helps people grow and see how mental health positions their kids to do well academically. At the end of the day, I want better results. I want learning outcomes to be high – that’s academic outcomes – and by focusing on the mental health of my whole entire community, that’s where you can do it. And Ronit can help!
So what is Derek Brady saying here?
He is saying that parents make a major difference to their kids and that when parents learn to be happy, EVERYTHING works better – the kids are happy, their academic performance improves, the teachers like them more (which makes everything even better) and the school can spend more time and resources on fun stuff (which makes everything better again).
He is saying you should talk to your school principal, wherever you are, tell them about the awesome benefits of creating a happy community around the school, including staff, parents and kids, and send them to The Motivational Speaker.
And if your school does not run parenting workshops and you live in the Brisbane area, register for our parenting workshop on Sunday, 25 July 2010, at the Southern Cross Sports Club on Klumpp Road, Upper Mt Gravatt and improve the life of your kids, partner and, most importantly, your own.