Evolving with Gratitude #Preview

It was such a blessing not only to publish Lainie Rowell’s latest book, “Evolving with Gratitude” with IMPress but to also write a portion myself with many others.

When Lainie was going through the writing process, I challenged her by saying, “How will the practice of gratitude improve learning?” and she did a fantastic job in her book not only sharing why gratitude is valuable in our world but also strategies that could be implemented both in the classroom and our lives.

You are going to love it!


You can pick up your copy here!


For now, here is my small portion of this book:



Like the rest of the world, March 2020 had a significant impact on my life and the lives of those around me. As someone who benefited from traveling around the globe and working with educators,  I quickly had to figure out a new path. I was nervous about what the future would hold and how the change in my career would affect my family and me.  

One of the things that I had focused on in the years prior was the practice of gratitude. I remember building on these two questions from Tim Denning and making a practice in my own life. He had shared the following questions:


  1. Did I learn one new thing today?
  2. Did I help or inspire one person?


I loved the questions but I wanted to add a third.


  1. Did I show gratitude to someone who has had a positive impact on me?


I was going through these questions prior to March of 2020 and I felt that it helped center me at the end of the day, while setting the tone for the next.

But I let that practice slip away.

But then I remember reading a post by my good friend, Patrick Larkin, titled “Never a Better Time to Practice Gratitude” in March of 2020. I read this quote, and was a bit thrown off:



“Find one thing each day that you are grateful for that would not have been possible if we were not in these unique circumstances. Parents, ask your children to do the same.”

Patrick Larkin



My first thought was, “Wow…this feels really selfish!” When people were really struggling, trying and finding “good” seemed to be a self-centered endeavor. 

But I know Patrick well, and I will tell you, he is one of the most caring and giving people I have ever met. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and at dinner, I asked my daughter Kallea, who was three at the time, “What was something she was grateful for?”

She looked at me and said, “Daddy home.”

Single tear moment.

I had been on the road for the past ten years without a month straight at home, and all of a sudden, her words helped me recalibrate and focus on what I did have at the moment versus what I didn’t. Taking that inward focus on what I was grateful for all of a sudden helped me think about how I could help others. What had felt like a selfish act had truly helped me become selfless in my focus.

I noticed this two-week period in the world where educators were celebrated for their fantastic work during Covid, and I felt people finally appreciated schools and teachers for all they had done for our communities. But then those “two weeks” seemed to end, and I not only saw a lack of appreciation but, in some cases, vitriol towards educators. I know that many people were dealing with stressful situations, but it truly hurt my heart. I decided I wanted to make a difference and help change the narrative, so I started a series called “3 Questions on Educators That Inspire” on my podcast that would ask the following:


  1. Who is a teacher that inspired you?
  2. Who is an administrator that inspired you?
  3. What advice would you give to your first-year teacher-self?


This was a way to share the excellent practices of educators and show gratitude for the teachers that made an impact on our lives. I wanted to model the practice, so I answered these questions first and talked about three of my teachers. My kindergarten teacher, my music teachers, and my high school football coach. I shared heartfelt stories of them, and within 48 hours, each one reached out to me to thank me for the acknowledgment! I had not talked to two of them and probably over 20 years, but here they were, cheering me on and thanking me for taking the time to acknowledge them! 

I thought about how many educators in the world had NO idea of their impact on students. They will never get the “thank you’s” they deserve, but if I could get them one closer, that is at least a good start.  

That podcast series turned into a book titled “Because of a Teacher,” where 15 educators shared their answers to these questions. The co-authors of this book wrote incredible stories, and in many cases, I saw them giving books to the teachers from their past that were mentioned, and it truly warmed my heart. The hope was not just to highlight our great teachers but to encourage others in and out of the profession, in some way, to reach out to their former teachers and let them know about their impact. It has been magical to watch that practice of gratitude for others not only spread across the world, but it allowed us to reach back in time to let those know their impact.

What has been beautiful to watch is that several schools have started their own podcast with their current students to ask them about a teacher they have had in their school that has impacted them. Not only does this share what resonates with our kids, but it encourages students not to wait 40 years like I did to let their teachers know the impact they have had on them!

I always say this and do my best to embody it; it is always better to share gratitude for others too early rather than too late. It is a selfless act that benefits not only those who receive it but also those who give it.