By Dr. Steve Woolf
The first time I heard Kevin Honeycutt, my dear friend and former JRNC keynoter, say “Live your life out loud!” I didn’t hear a thing he said for the next ten minutes because the phrase grabbed my heart and my mind. Absolutely! Coming up with a definition of “living out loud” is a little difficult, but most of us have a picture in our mind or a feeling in our gut that LOL (Living Out Loud) is where we can take our greatest attributes and passions and use them unashamedly to make the world a better place. What a great dream to have for our students! The challenge is to take it from being a dream to a vision and then a reality.
While the 5 R’s of Renaissance (Reward, Recognition, Respect, and Reinforcement = Results) are important and were definitely the early driving force of the movement, we have expanded our dream for Renaissance schools to truly becoming amazing difference makers who change the world for the better at every opportunity. Renaissance schools across the nation are doing just that!
One of the leaders in the nation doing this is Renaissance Hall of Famer, Sara Cowey. Sara teaches the Renaissance Leadership Class in her school and the focus is to make the world a better place. In fact, their goal is that every place they go, every room they step into, and every interaction they have – that place and time would be better because they were there. Whether it is organizing the Jefferson Awards, celebrating all students and staffulty, or reaching outside of the schoolyard to the rest of the world, San Mateo High School is on it! They are Living Out Loud!
As we approach the holiday season where being without food, shelter, and companionship seems to be a little more painful, there are Renaissance schools that are reaching out to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. San Mateo’s Renaissance Leadership Class pulls together the entire school community to donate food. In fact, they have been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest can drive in the world! Their donations provide food for thousands of people. They worked together to make a video to inspire donations and tell their story:
While seeing to the physical needs of those around us during the holiday season is so important to Renaissance students and staffulty who strive to Live Out Loud, connection is every bit as important as anything else we can offer. People are hard wired for connection. Relationships are key to mental health and so very many people are lonely during the holidays. Teaching our kids the gift of friendship and relationships is huge! Being able to see beyond ourselves into others’ pain and loneliness, and to be empathetic to those around us and then having the guts to risk connection and relationships, is a life-changing and world-changing skill. Renaissance schools focus on making sure kids have niches to fit into and positive connections to other students in their student body.
I’ve been a Renaissance Educator since 1992 and I am so excited to see the growth in Jostens Renaissance beyond the 5 R’s. Truly impacting lives beyond just academics and attitudes to truly focusing on positive actions – to living life out loud – is heart warming! The ball is now in your court! How are YOU going to Live Out Loud this holiday season? What kind of difference are you and your school going to make? I thrive on seeing these differences so please post them on social media. I am looking forward to seeing your story and, if you know me, I will tell your story to anyone who will listen. I love a great story that impacts the world! Let’s start that story in your school and in your life!