The SOAR® Manifesto: A Near-Disastrous Moment at Age 17 Is Now the Foundation of SOAR®

When I was 17, my mom (a physician), invited me to be her guest at an invitation-only “cocktail party” for a new physical therapy (PT) center.  In reality, it was an open house for doctors and other health care professionals who might refer patients to the new center for PT.

Mom’s invitation was like a rite of passage; I was excited to attend such a professional event.  I had been working in her office for a few years and knew the doctors opening the PT center. One of those doctors had taken great care of me after I suffered a hip injury a couple years earlier.  Mom thought I would enjoy seeing my doctor again and exploring his new center.  She was right…I was excited on all levels!

See the SOAR® team as we have some fun while sharing our deep convictions of education here:

A moment at age 17 could have been disastrous. Now, it influences the very foundation of SOAR®!

As we arrived, I was warmly greeted by many of Mom’s colleagues.  My mom is loved and respected by her patients and colleagues (over the years, dozens and dozens have eagerly told me how much they admire her) and that was evident by their friendly smiles and handshakes.  My doctor was genuinely happy to see me and made me feel very welcome.  My first professional event was off to a spectacular start!

But then, something happened.  Mom and I soon found ourselves standing amongst a large group of people, mostly doctors and their spouses.  My mom introduced me to the group and one of the doctor’s wives responded by asking my mom the ages of her children.  Mom explained that she had three children, ages 17, 15, and 13.

With that, the woman cocked her head to one side and snidely said, “Oooohhhh!  TEENAGERS!  That must be rouuuugh!”

I instantly felt about 2 inches tall. Here I was, feeling all professional.  Then, this woman publicly degraded me!  She acted as if my youth prevented me from having feelings or being worthy of respect.  It was humiliating… excruciatingly so.

Without a moment of hesitation, or any concern that she was standing amongst her colleagues, Mom responded with conviction.  She looked the woman directly in the eye and calmly said, “My children are wonderful people!  I am very blessed!”

Awkward silence followed.  The group swallowed the fact that Mom had just put the wife of one of their colleagues in her place.   I lowered my eyes to hide my grin of vindication.  Mom never blinked an eye and moved on to a new conversation.

That was over twenty years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.  Most people would have been influenced by peer pressure and either agreed with the woman’s comments, or casually brushed them off.  Instead, my mom instantly, instinctively, defended me.


Because Mom has always valued the unique human being within each and every person.  Not only her children, but her 29 nieces and nephews, and her thousands of patients.  THIS is why Mom’s patients would become giddy when they saw me in her office and passionately tell me how much they loved her; because she made them feel valued. Despite their challenges, and often their short-comings, Mom innately respected them for exactly who they are.

That moment of vindication burns deeply in my soul.  I can still feel the pang of hurt and embarrassment from that woman’s comment.  But, just as quickly as I relive that moment, I also feel the rush of adrenaline as Mom restored my dignity.

That moment deeply influenced the teacher and parent that I have grown to become.  Sadly, I see far too many instances in education where the unique flame of a student is extinguished.

In fact, the system of education is designed specifically to douse the flames within each student’s soul.  It even douses teachers’ souls as they fight through “the core curriculum,” despite what they know is best for their beloved students.

At SOAR®, we know the battles being fought each day and stand with parents, teachers, and students who share our convictions towards education.  We may not be able to change the core curriculum (yet), but we can navigate within it to ensure that relevant skills –and dignity- are part of the equation.

As a team, we developed a list of our core convictions and crafted the SOAR® Manifesto.  Then, several of us gathered to make a video.

We had a lot of fun making this video!  It’s a little cheesy, but definitely not boring.  We wanted to share our convictions and the real people on our team who stand for them.  Take a moment to watch this brief video below.  (Be sure to watch to the very end, where my 4 year-old daughter decided to add a couple “adlibbed” lines of her own.  It was a completely unexpected, unscripted example of exactly what we support in education…the individual spirit of the child!)

The SOAR® Manifesto

At SOAR®, we don’t care about your race, sex, gender, age, religion, or political affiliation.  We welcome you to our community of shared values in education!  At SOAR®, we believe:

1. Content standards of the K-12 system do NOT teach students how to learn.  We must teach students how to access and organize that content.

2. We are preparing students for jobs –in a global marketplace- that do not exist today.  Content can become outdated; learning skills last a lifetime.

3. We pursue excellence, NOT perfection, in the craft of parenting and teaching.

4. Most “learning disabilities” evaporate simply by employing best-practices in learning.

5. IQ scores can “grow!”

6. Learning should be fun!  Simple models of instruction help students find the joy in learning again!

7. The human spirit within each child, parent, and teacher must be respected.  We strive to understand the logic behind the emotions and motivations of ourselves and our students.

8. Students must be held to high expectations.  But, we must give them the tools to succeed.

9. Students want greater responsibility and challenges. All they need is structure and support.

10. Action is the only path to self-confidence and motivation.  Feelings follow action; action allows students to experience success. Everything else is artificial.

11. We must work with what “is” and accept what we cannot immediately change.  Venting is allowed.  Complaining and criticism are not.

12. Grades do not determine success! We must celebrate students’ strengths, gifts, and talents in all areas of their life.

13. We celebrate the successful, “everyday” efforts of parents and teachers!  We acknowledge that we all have our challenges and even have some “bad days.” But, we learn from those days.  We communicate with our children and students about them.  And, we move forward with gratitude in our hearts for the young people in our lives.

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