Be that #Oneperson

Blogging is not something I have ever done. However, as a lifelong learner I follow many blogs to expand my knowledge as a leader and educator.  I have decided that if I want to build my own Professional Learning Network (PLN) and bring more value to my current PLN, I should create a space for my own experiences and education to assist other educators.

Therefore, my first post will encompass a little of everything I believe about the power an educator has on the life of a child.  I understand all too well, how overwhelming the demands of education can be on the lives of educators.  So, I am creating a post, which will hopefully, energize all educators by simplifying what it takes to make a difference for all children.

I was recently talking to my friend Ron Mirr, a well-known educator in the state of Iowa.  Ron is known across the state for is work and teaching on school connectedness and family-school partnerships. He currently teaches a graduate course at Harvard on this topic every summer.  He shared something with me, which helped me see value in building relationships in education. This research he shared was simple; yet, powerful, and would have a profound impact on my personal mission statement.

In an educational age where politicians, who argue the merits of Core Curriculum and standardized, test scores, can disillusion educators, I believe school leaders must put an emphasis on the impact of relationships. What if every student had just, “one person,” with whom they felt connected?  Does, “one person,” really have the ability to influence the items below?

  • Incidents of fighting, bullying, or vandalism
  • Absenteeism
  • School completion rates
  • Motivation
  • Classroom engagement
  • Academic performance

Well, the research supports the concept of, “one person.” Research from the Center for Adolescent Health and Development, University of Minnesota, has shown a strong association between school connectedness and every risk behavior they studied, including school failure. 71,515 students in 127 schools were asked questions, which helped document the following areas:

  • Why do some adolescents feel attached to school and some don’t?
  • What individual and school characteristics predict connectedness?

I find the  graph below simply astonishing. The students stated the number one factor of school connectedness was the importance of one supportive relationship with an adult. One supportive relationship at school increases success in school over 30% and decreases difficulty in school over 30%.  You will also note that after, “one person,” the percentages do not change by more than a few percentage points.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 9.59.11 AM (1)


One supportive relationship for every student is attainable, and must be a priority for all school leaders.

Action Item:

  1. Hang a picture of every student in your building in the gym during a back to school meeting.
  2. Leave space under the student picture for your staff to write items that they know about each student
  3. When you finish the activity, start a dialogue with your staff. What do we notice? Does every student possess a supportive relationship with at least on adult at our school?
  4. Create a shared plan to connect with every student and make sure every student has #oneperson.
  5. Be that #Oneperson

To the world, you might be just one person.  But to one person, you might be the world.



  1. That is a great activity. I remember doing that with everyone at C. I also remember you telling me once – when you look at success in a classroom you ask yourself “what is the variable?” It IS that #oneperson. Enjoyed your post.

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I know you have been that #oneperson for countless children! #rockchalkjayhawk

  2. Joel,
    What an impressive first blog post on a subject that is near and dear to your heart! Kudos, sir, for joining the blogosphere! It truly is a great place to build your PLN and your knowledge base as well. I look forward to future learning with you!

    A book for you to read in elementary classrooms or at your PD where you do the activity above is “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson.

    You ARE that ONE person!

  3. Great first blog. Yes, yes, I have said that for years every human being needs at least one person to honestly care. We all need someone to lean on sometimes !!! Keep on with your journey👍😊

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