celebrate kindness

Archive for the ‘#isterak’ Category


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Two weeks ago, while attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference in Denver, CO, I had the pleasure of visiting with the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. I discovered this organization in 2014 and applied to be a RAKtivist shortly thereafter. Since that time, I have been inspired by their monthly newsletters and mission to spread kindness around the world.

And now, I can say I have met the ladies behind the label. Bucket list – check!

I emailed a request to visit their office and after a somewhat elaborate walk through the city (my Waze app sent me on a very long path!), I finally arrived just a few blocks from where I started. Thankfully it was a gorgeous summer day and my Fitbit cheered my progress of steps for the day.


I was greeted by Rachelle Stubby who graciously gave me the tour of their office space, a cozy attic abode atop a historical museum.  I met the other ladies in the office, Kelsey Gryniewicz, Brooke Jones, and Jeana Newsom, and received apologies that the RAK Foundation Director couldn’t meet with me due to a prior engagement.  (With the Dalai Lama. And Lady Gaga. And city mayors and Ann Curry. All part of a panel discussion about kindness. WOW!)

The gals were friendly, kind, and gracious. We chatted about various kindness initiatives and then they presented me with a few surprises! Oh my goodness, such thoughtfulness!


We then walked a few blocks to a local restaurant where they treated me to a delicious lunch as we chatted and brainstormed ideas for sharing kindness with others. These gals were SO inspiring! I was reminded of southern hospitality; all that was missing was sweet tea and a front porch (we already had the great conversation and cool breeze.)

We talked about extroverts and introverts. Bloggers to follow and books to write. Little Free Libraries and ways to make them work. We pondered the RAK vision and how to get more people involved with random acts of kindness. I was able to share a little about what I do, how I got started, and who was along for the ride. I even gave a shout-out to my school district and the Hanover Education Foundation for funding “A Passion for Kindness” grant that I will implement next year in Lori Cross’ fourth-grade classroom.

It was a solid hour wrapped in joy.

Jeana had to leave a little early for a conference call, but the other gals and I posed for a photo as our time together came to a close. I was humbled that they would make my visit a priority in their day, then had to laugh at my own surprise.


Rachelle, me, Kelsey, and Brooke

This was their RAK for me.

If you would like more information about the Random Act of Kindness Foundation, you can connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, or their website. They have free lesson plans for K-12 teachers, a collection of quotes and inspirational videos, even a monthly newsletter you can receive. If you want to join me as a RAKtivist that would be great, too!

All it takes is one person to bring more kindness into this world. Do a random act of kindness. Share your story. Inspire others through actions and words. Kindness is contagious!



“We apologize for the inconvenience…”

Two weeks ago we received an email that our hotel reservation was no longer valid. Apparently the hotel double-booked their rooms and despite our reservation being placed half a year ago, we were being bumped to another hotel for one night only.


The new hotel, a Hampton Inn & Suites, was closer to the Convention Center (and offered a continental breakfast), but we were told they could only accommodate us for the first night because they, too, were booked the entire conference.

So we planned accordingly.

We arrived late last night and selectively unpacked only what we would need to get ready the next morning. The Hampton Inn was GORGEOUS, right in the heart of the city, and we lamented about our desire to remain here.

This morning as we finished our delicious continental breakfast, a well-dressed gentleman approached our table and offered to clear our plates. We exchanged pleasantries (we are southerners after all), then he asked if there was anything he could do to make our stay better.

“You could find a way for them to stay all week!” exclaimed Lisa, a friendly smile across her face. Our friends, Lisa and Sonja were already booked in this hotel for the week and shared our dismay at having to change hotels.

The gentleman, Kevin Smith, inquired about our dilemma, then smiled and said, “I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes and two phone calls later, Kevin made it happen.

We get to stay the week. We don’t have to switch hotels. We don’t even have to switch rooms!

There is no greater joy than having a wish fulfilled. We are blessed beyond measure for this man’s kindness, his willingness to go above and beyond to help us, and the hospitality shown to us from Hampton Inn & Suites in Denver. He was even willing to take a picture with us! If you are ever in this part of the country and need a hotel, I highly recommend this one!

Now off to our first conference day!

Another text message received.

Another flight delay.

We each shared a collective sigh, our growing excitement for traveling west tempered for a few more hours. Our attention turned back to a previous conversation as we tried to shroud our disappointment with stories of family, friends, and fun.

There is nothing fun about being stuck in an airport for five hours.

The restaurants closed, the crowds dwindled, and we checked our Twitter feeds to pass the time.

We were the last flight to leave the airport.

There are times in this life when we are simply powerless to control the events around us. I can’t fix a broken plane. I can’t make time miraculously speed forward. I can’t suddenly transport myself from here to there with the twitch of my nose or the rub of a genie’s bottle.

I can, however, control my reaction to those things that wield power over me.

I smiled at my travelmates. Allowed laughter to resonate against the tiled floor as we focused on joy instead of frustration. Even laughed at myself when I mistakenly told an airline attendant I was headed to Chicago instead of Denver, a faux pas surely rooted from my in-laws living in Chi-Town for two decades.

We took selfies to commemorate the unforeseen turn-of-events, our smiles as vivid as if we were already flying to our destination hours before.

The airline attendant was pleasantly apologetic, acknowledging the extensive amount of time that had passed, offering directions on how to contact the airline for a small credit for the inconvenience.

Then, five hours later, we boarded the plane.

And were rewarded by three hours of continuous sunsets.

Sometimes we need to know there is a greater purpose for those things we can’t control. That change doesn’t always equate despair. That beautiful surprises can occur in the midst of chaos and disappointment.

And that sometimes God gives us RAKs, too.

Our flight attendant was very kind, helping passengers with connecting flights and soothing crying babies. I left her a little random act of kindness as we exited the plane.

Now that we are in Denver, I’m looking forward to sharing more kindness tomorrow as we learn and grow at the ISTE Conference! 

Today is the day! 

I spent the morning gathering all my goodies as I packed my luggage for the annual International Society for Technology in Education Conference in Denver, CO. If you haven’t had an opportunity to participate in this amazing conference and you’re on Twitter, be sure to follow #iste2016 to learn the latest and greatest education practice for technology integration in and out of the classroom!

I have lots of exciting things planned for this trip. Tomorrow is National Day to Spread Summer Fun, promoted by Cathy O’Grady and Sophia’s Angels (www.facebook.com/sodiasangelsraok), so I plan to leave some jump ropes and toy cars around the city in hopes that someone might enjoy them. All 50 states will be represented in this event, leaving summer fun toys and playground equipment all across the US. Join with us and share your pictures on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #spreadsummerfun!

The official conference also begins tomorrow and I am giddy about learning from all the great presenters! Makerspaces, Breakout EDU, coding, and blogging are just a few of the topics I hope to learn more about. I’m also excited to reconnect with my PLN (personal learning network) – people I interact with through Twitter chats, but only see at conferences and state events.

I plan to leave little surprises throughout the conference, my own version of  “techy RAKs” – free compliment tags, “You’re Worth a 100 Grand” treats and, of course, a plethora of Nerds candy. I’m encouraging anyone who finds my treats to tweet a picture with the hashtag #isterak so others can share in the fun of kindness all week!

Monday will also bring joy to my soul as I visit The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation which has an office in Denver. Several years ago I became a Raktivist, committing to lead by example with kindness for others. I never imagined that I would have an opportunity to visit the foundation in person, and meet the people behind the mission, so this is like a RAK for me!

On Tuesday I will present two back-to-back Poster sessions: Bring JOY to the classroom with Passion Projects (1:15-3:15, Table 24) and Twitter Party (4:00-6:00, Table 22). My first session will showcase passions projects created by Mrs. Bambi Feighner’s first grade students (that’s right – six year olds!); my second session is a joint venture with friends, Margaret and Sam, whom I met on Twitter. Tuesday will be a stellar day for sure!

I can’t wait to see how this upcoming week unfolds. I’m sure my brain will be overflowing with new ideas and my heart full with new friends!

If you are on Twitter, I would love for you to tweet out any random acts of kindness you see, do, or receive. With 15,000 attendees all in one place, we have the opportunity to bless SO many people! Let’s get this adventure started!


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