Imagine a classroom of students who are more relaxed, more empathetic upon listening to their classmates’ stories of fears, sadness, and angst, and more eager to communicate and share their stories. Imagine a classroom of team members who help one another resolve problems with more confidence and enthusiasm. Imagine a classroom with more positivity and a willingness to volunteer and, thus, find meaning in their lives.
As a teacher of over 30 years, Vera Hirschhorn, M.S., is excited to share and offer her new educational resource, I’m Somebody & So Are You! The Human Connection in Education: A toolkit for Teaching People Skills. In this tech age of alienation, isolation, and cyber-bullying, Vera’s five interdisciplinary teaching tools will help teachers and students experience more inner peace and more success in interpersonal relationships, academics and leadership.
“I plan to share the book with my colleagues who teach the middle grades
and high school, because we are all talking about the concerns we have about
increased anxieties, depression, bullying and suicides in our student populations.
Recognizing genocide, such as the Holocaust, as the most extreme
form of bullying is an important note as children and teens who are unable
to express their identities, their passions and their fears become afflicted with
diagnosed or undiagnosed conditions of anxiety and depression at alarmingly
increasing rates in the U.S.
Expressive arts, mindfulness, deep breathing and positive self-talk become
an essential part of a curriculum that contains the human element and this
book provides teachers with the tools and the incentive to integrate the tools
in their subject area curricula and address the age of alienation that young
students find normal.
The link between the suggested activities and the ‘soft skills’ that Forbes
Magazine described as missing from the skill set of this generation’s graduates
is especially useful in encouraging teachers and teacher education students
to study and implement story-telling. The arts connection is equally well
linked through the author’s presentation of her own personal story, modeling
vulnerability as a valid state of expression and sharing her pathway to teaching
the whole child/person. Music, drama, puppetry, visual art, writing and
volunteering may be just right for getting at ‘soft skills’ for students given their
multiple intelligences profile, their diverse backgrounds, their learning style
preferences and their prior educational experiences.
An important learning from my first attempt at utilizing some of the book’s
story-telling exercises in my university classes for music education students is
to consider the mindfulness and breathing as preparatory components. College
students who have not experienced the safe spaces, encouragement and
benefits of personal artistic expression alone or in groups need the time and
the assistance to set their biases and hurried schedules aside for best results.
My music education students’ experiences with the ‘Teachers in Training’
storytelling yielded deeper responses about their own journeys, than prompts
I have used previously about their decision to become educators. We have
changed the assignment to incorporate this excellent and simple process to
help university students formulate their self-portrait as a teacher, and understand
their basis for decisions about teaching.”
—Susan W. Mills, Ed.D., Professor and Director of Music Education,
Hayes School of Music, Appalachian State University
“I truly believe in your philosophy and know that
your curriculum has value for students and teachers.
The future of education depends upon teaching and
learning that focuses on caring and trusting relationships.
The key to learning is to value others and yourself.”
“Thank you Vera Hirschhorn for dedicating your time and energy to writing this resource that addresses creative solutions for crisis, conflict, bullying and violence that occurs in student’s lives. It is now more important than ever to work together in developing critical thinkers who engage in ethical and caring decision making based upon self-knowledge and self-confidence. Everyone grows while learning through this curriculum.”
–Dr. Susannah Brown, Professor of Art Education,
Florida Atlantic University
“I really loved your approach to integrating arts activities and learnings with strategies for learning about oneself, diversity, differences, sameness and challenges of growing up in the cyber-age.”
–Susan W. Mills, Ed.D., director of Music Education,
Appalachian State University
“What a wonderful publication! This book is going
to be easily applied in the classroom and beyond—
even in home-school environments. Bravo!”
Quotes from teachers-in-training at Florida Atlantic
University’s College of Education:
“Vera gave us a Toolkit and a Handbook of Tools for confidence and the courage we need on how we can help our students.”
“Vera was well-informed on how to address every child and help students to understand, express, and deal with their feelings and alleviate stress. Starting mindfulness techniques at an early age and learning activities that help the classroom ‘go upward’ were useful strategies.”
“Self-reflecting is important as a future leader/teacher. Once we know
who we are and how we feel, then, we can better our future and the
world. I must be a role model so that students may follow my positive
“I will be more cognizant and accepting of the differences of all
individuals. I will encourage respect among students, their peers and
communities and for them to be true to themselves and not conform
… . you can be an individual and still belong.”
“I learned a creative way to introduce the importance and excitement
of diversity. I also learned to respect and appreciate the stories of
“The project has shown how important it is to be flexible and the
benefits of stepping out of our comfort zone.”
“One project showed how we can make ourselves feel more comfortable
around each other, and get to know our peers and students.’’
“It helped us find similarities with others and appreciate differences.”