Back To School Checklist


With so many returning to school I felt it was important to provide a checklist of things that are important for every student. No, I am not talking about a backpack, pens, extra chargers for the cell phone, etc. My checklist is a bit different, take a look.

  • Attitude: You have a decision to make right now, what type of school year are YOU going to have? This decision is up to you period. I would hope that you have an attitude of hope, excitement, kindness, inclusion and accomplishment among others. Your attitude is reflected in the decisions you make each day. If you want to have a great school year, then you need to be sure and start with a positive attitude.
  • Goals: What is it you want to accomplish this school year that have NOTHING to do with your grades? Here are some potential areas that you might want to think about: Making new friends, being a better friend, show respect, balance your time, show more gratitude towards classmates, teammates, teachers, coaches, parents, siblings, be actively engaged, express your thoughts, develop new skills. Hopefully you can find one or two specific areas that you can set a goal and then prepare to make it happen.
  • Values: This may seem a bit different but I feel more now than ever we must be talking about our values more and more. Thus, you need to be sure and know what your personal values and be committed to living those each day. If you value integrity then be sure you do not cheat, even if you think its something small. If you value time, then don’t waste it when you are in class. If you value inclusion, then be sure others see this and don’t be a gossiper. If you value gratitude, then be sure you are showing this with hand written notes, saying thank you often and showing respect. Values define us whether we realize it or not. There is such great strength that comes from our values which is why I feel so strongly that students need to focus on this.
  • Support Network: Who is in your support network? Who are the people you trust to talk to about things? This may be one of the most important checklist items ever. With so much pressure on students today to achieve success in everything there is no doubt mental health will become an even more critical topic. The better prepared you are now the more opportunity you will have to make it through the challenges and trials you will face as well as be more confident to be there for others. Be honest with yourself in everything you do. Be honest with those you trust so they can help. Never feel like you can’t talk to someone, there is ALWAYS someone willing and wanting to help. You are needed in this world. You have so much potential and having a solid support network will lighten your emotional load some to bring more peace as you fight each day.

As I mentioned, this may not be your typical checklist for Back To School but my goal is to at least get you thinking about these important things. We are living in a world where mental health is become more and more important to not just understand but learn how to improve. Every life matters, every decision matters. What we do truly matters.

You will have an awesome school year, now make it happen hero.

PARENTS: I would invite you to sit down with your children and discuss this checklist. Have an open conversation with them. Start the year with the type of relationship that can help ensure you are a part of their support network. It will be worth it.


Positivity IS the KEY


We have all heard the saying that we attract like-minded people or we surround ourselves with those like us. We have the freedom to choose who we surround ourselves with. I find it interesting when teenagers start going down the wrong path and their first response is often about how others do it. I am not even talking about peer pressure here, I am talking about full on accountability of their own decisions.

With the precious freedom to be able to decide what we do and who we surround ourselves with, we should want to connect with those people who will influence us in a positive way. Those that want to see and help us succeed. In return, we should want to be this type of person to others.

We are all looking for positivity in our life. We may define this in different ways which is a great thing but the truth is we are all searching. Too often, teenagers are looking to social media and popularity for happiness and influence but they often find themselves falling into a tornado of anxiety, depression, loneliness and sadness. Social media can be used in a great ways and it’s all about awareness. What I love is that when we find these influential people, we want to spend more time with them, we want to create a stronger connection. We see and feel the positivity they bring into our lives. It is this connection that can really start to move us towards our goals and dreams.

I have tried hard to have people in my life who can uplift me, teach me, mentor me, bring positive influences when I need them most. As I have done so, I noticed that the connections I make lead to others who have a similar vision and passion. It becomes evident that the circle of influence is strong and real. We must take it seriously but also know that it is a living circle. We can add and take away from it. We have the freedom to do so.

Teenagers often feel like many of their freedoms are not there but they are. They come as trust is established, good decisions are made and the right people in their lives. The truth is, it’s all about consistency. You can’t expect all of this overnight, it is truly a process. One of the important things to mention here is how all of this is impacted by the use of social media. It is not very hard to quickly get a clear picture of how a teenager is living their life by viewing their social media. Remember that your digital footprint stays with you forever so be very aware of how you are using social media.

Write a list of the people closest to you in your life right now. List some of the reasons they are so important to you, what have you learned from them, what would you like to learn from them? Take a look at who you are following/engaging with on your different social media apps, how are they and their actions influencing you. Take an assessment.

Allow yourself today to find others that can bring positivity into your life. You deserve it. You need connections and positive ones are the type that will get you to where you want and can be.

If you value yourself and your life, take control of who is influencing your life and be sure they bring positivity which will lead to happiness.

Make it Happen!


You Are Awesome

Okay, I need to give it to you straight, without sugar coating my words, YOU ARE AWESOME.I am serious. Whether I know you personally or not, I admire you. You inspire others in ways you may not even know. As someone who is reading this, you inspire me. I appreciate you being you.

When you feel down, lonely, anxious, depressed, sad or any other feelings that don’t allow you to be you, remember this, I CARE ABOUT YOU. Never underestimate the power of knowing that others truly care about you. Let nothing in your life let you forget that. You are awesome.

I came across the following poem that I love. I hope you will not just read it but think about the message.

You’re More Than Awesome

A poem by Noel S. Williams

You’re more than awesome
You are one of a kind
Your personality blossoms
and your bright soul is not confined

You’re smile is beautiful
You’re hope is bright
Your spirit is lovable
You shine through with your light

Sometimes you’ll forget these things
When your life gets tough
You’ll feel as if you’re tied up by strings
You feel like your life is rough

But when you get to that point
When you can’t remeber all the good
When you’re being torn apart joint by joint
Look back at this and remember what you should

You’re perfect in every way
You are the light in the dark
Your spirit is yellow not grey
And you are the start of a hopeful spark

You’re more than awesome
You’re one of a kind
You’re beautiful like a blossom
and your soul is not confined.

You are a hero and heroes rock.