courageous conversations

Jostens Renaissance is proud to provide relevant and engaging content to help educators and students engage in meaningful dialogue around sometimes difficult to discuss topics. It is time to normalize talking about self care and mental health.

These public videos are designed for student, educator, and parent audiences, featuring real people who have shown real strength – sharing stories related to grit, handling failure, wellbeing, mental health, and overcoming fear and obstacles. Each episode of Courageous Conversations is accompanied by a discussion guide perfect for your classroom, staff meeting, or dinner table.

It’s Time to Have Courageous Conversations

Within each section below, click on the image or the title to view the Courageous Conversations video. You can access the accompanying reflection and discussion guide for each episode by clicking the button to the right of each image. Click here to view or download the episodes in podcast format.

Episodes For Educators:

Find Courageous Conversations episodes below that are specifically designed for teachers and staff. These can be:

  • Shown during all staff meetings (we recommend using the discussion guides)
  • Used as professional development
  • Sent as inspiration in teacher newsletters
courageous conversations

Building Your Brand

Whether we like to admit it or not – your brand as an educator is important and it affects how your students, their parents, your colleagues and the community perceive you as a person and as a professional. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Steve Bollar (aka Stand Tall Steve) shares simple insights on how to build the brand you desire for yourself.

jonathan alsheimer

Engaging Students

Keeping students engaged in learning is one of the most challenging parts of education, but throw in a pandemic and we have a student engagement crisis on our hands.  In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Jonathan Alsheimer shares several ideas for how to transform your existing instructional resources and practices into ones students won’t be able to resist engaging with.

courageous conversations

Laughable Moments 

Anyone who has taught for any length of time has at least one embarrassing moment that you can now look back on and laugh about. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, several educators share their memorable moment and the lesson they walked away learning because of it.

mental health

Mental Health

Mark Brown’s mental health journey began in his teenage years and has been an ever-present part of his life since. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Mark shares his battle with anorexia, his struggles with self-worth and self-talk, and his recollection of the moment he realized he no longer had to suffer alone. Watch this episode for insights and tips for making mental health an intentional priority every day.

courageous conversations

Physical Fitness and Wellbeing

When Dwight Carter found himself struggling with depression, he had a support system of loved ones and colleagues who were there for him.  But he found that a pivotal key to his mental health was through focusing on his physical health.  In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Dwight shares his wellbeing journey and shows us the connection between physical and mental wellness.

courageous conversations


Dr. Farah Ortega-Choate shares the impact prioritizing relationships has had on her as educator and as a person.  When a personal crisis entered her own life, the relationships she had established with her students provided comfort and support when she needed it the most. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Dr. Ortega-Choate shares examples of why relationships matter most.

courageous conversations

Seeking Growth

We all want our students and our own children to dedicate themselves to lifelong learning.  We want them to continue to seek knowledge, understanding, and new ideas. But, do we hold ourselves as educators to that same hunger for growth? In this episode of Courageous Conversations, several educators share their favorite books, podcasts, and PLNs – ones that have helped them grow both professionally and personally.

Episodes For Parents:

Find Courageous Conversations episodes below that are specifically designed for parents of students. These can be:

  • Shown at school open houses
  • Sent in parent newsletters with links to episodes
  • Shown at PTO meetings
courageous conversations

The Achievement Gap

In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Dr. Keith Bell discusses the differences between ‘achievement’ and ‘growth’ while speaking candidly about a term we too-often hear casually thrown around – ‘The Achievement Gap’.

courageous conversations

Celebrate Your Child’s Journey

In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Rick Morton and Virginia Wilson share how they’ve dedicated their lives to preserving memories for students. Both Jostens reps, they share true stories highlighting the vital importance of documenting and honoring your child’s experiences in school and beyond.

courageous conversations

Parent Involvement in Education

In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Julie Diaz discusses how parental involvement diminishes in middle and high school grades. With a career spanning public education administration at every level, Julie leverages her expertise to outline easy ways parents can respect their child’s growing independence and autonomy without backing out of their educational experience.

courageous conversations

Parenting in a Digital Age

In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Maree Hampton and Katherine Myers encourage parents to take that crucial first step in protecting a child’s wellbeing – focusing on their sleep. As co-founders of Live More Screen Less, a digital wellbeing resource for parents and educators, Maree and Katherine are full of tips and actionable advice for setting boundaries related to technology and sleep.

courageous conversations

Self Care

In this episode of Courageous Conversations, Sara Nilles shares the moment of her epiphany – when she finally realized she couldn’t ignore her own self-care. As a caregiver to others, she needed to make a mind shift and practice intentionality. Learn from her journey with simple, impactful tips for making personal wellbeing a priority.

What I Wish My Parents Knew

In this episode of Courageous Conversations, we asked young people to speak candidly about what they wished their parents knew. Each generation sees life through a unique lens, based on the world they grow up in and their life experience. With the insights they share, these students may leave you wondering just what your own child wished you knew.

Episodes For Students:

Find Courageous Conversations episodes below that are specifically designed to speak directly to students. These can be:

  • Used in home rooms or SEL lessons
  • A restorative practice tool
  • Sent directly to students with reflection guides
  • Alternated with The Harbor by Jostens

Dealing with Failure

We all have a fear of failing, but we each face that fear and react to failure in our own ways.  In this episode of Courageous Conversations, several young people share their insights on how to deal with failing and how they view the difference between failing and being a failure.

Gratitude and Empathy

Have you ever paid attention to how showing gratitude increases your connection to others which then increases your level of empathy for others? Whether we consciously realize it or not, there is a link between gratitude and empathy. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, see how expressing gratitude has created empathy in the hearts and minds of a few Gen Z youth.


Grit is one of those qualities that we all can admit there is a need for, but not everyone exhibits grit. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, several young people share their relationship with grit and how that dictates how they proceed through their life’s experiences.

Mental Wellness

It is time to normalize conversations about mental wellness. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, a few brave young people offer a peak inside their own mental wellness struggles and coping strategies.

Preparing for Life’s Transitions

Change is hard. Especially when you are younger and don’t have as many varied life experiences from which to draw wisdom. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, a handful of young adults discuss their emotions and mindset as they face some big life transitions on the horizon.


We each have our own view of success and that collective ideal of success changes from one generation to the next. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, young adults give us insight into what a successful life experience looks like through their eyes.

What I Want To Be

So much pressure is placed on young people to know exactly what they want to do as a profession. In our society, value is placed on productivity and work. In this episode of Courageous Conversations, young adults respond by reminding us all that the more important focus is not on what we become, but who we become.


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