Growing up in my hometown, I was always aware of all of the leaders around me. I watched, listened and admired many of them.

True leadership is not about being in charge; it's about taking care of those in your charge. Inspire others through empathy, integrity, and a commitment to collective growth. Together, we can achieve greatness.

I gained many skills from the different leaders in my life journey. I am blessed to have had so many examples and opportunities to learn from so many.

Thank you, Nanette. You were one of those leaders contributing to my leadership journey.

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Lead with Two Rules: Feeling Good & Feeling Safe by Brenda Yoho
Be part of the problem or part of the solution, the choice is always yours to make.

Lead with Two Rules: Feeling Good and Feeling Safe - The Path to Self-Actualization and Resilience

In the journey towards self-actualization and resilience, the philosophy of leading with two rules—Feeling Good and Feeling Safe—emerges as a guiding light. These two principles play a pivotal role in shaping individuals' responses to challenges, fostering social awareness, self-management, and various other skills essential for personal growth within the school community.

The first rule, "Feeling Good," emphasizes the importance of emotional well-being. Recognizing and prioritizing one's emotional state lays the foundation for a positive mindset. In the context of the school community, fostering an environment where individuals feel good emotionally contributes to a conducive atmosphere for learning and collaboration. When individuals are attuned to their emotions, they are better equipped to navigate interpersonal relationships and effectively manage stressors.

The second rule, "Feeling Safe," addresses the fundamental need for a secure and supportive environment. Creating a sense of safety is crucial for individuals to explore their potential and take risks in their personal and academic pursuits. This rule encourages the development of resilience, as individuals learn to confront challenges with the assurance that they are supported and protected within the school community.

The interconnectedness of social awareness and self-management becomes apparent within the framework of these two rules. Social awareness involves understanding one's emotions and recognizing the emotions of others. This skill promotes empathy, effective communication, and the ability to navigate complex social dynamics. Self-management, on the other hand, empowers individuals to regulate their emotions, make informed decisions, and set and achieve personal goals.

As individuals internalize the Two Rules philosophy, they become resilient in the face of adversity. The ability to feel good and safe provides a solid foundation for confronting challenges with a positive mindset and a sense of security. This resilience is a valuable asset in the dynamic school environment, where students encounter academic, social, and personal challenges.


Two Rules philosophy extends beyond individual well-being to contribute to the overall health of the school community. By fostering a culture where everyone is committed to ensuring that others feel good and safe, a supportive community emerges. This communal support creates a nurturing environment where individuals are not only focused on their personal growth but also actively contribute to the well-being of their peers. These skills expand on to include home and community.

Leading with the Two Rules—Feeling Good and Feeling Safe—offers a comprehensive approach to self-actualization and resilience within the school community. By prioritizing emotional well-being and creating a secure environment, individuals develop the skills needed to navigate challenges and thrive. This philosophy not only benefits individuals but also contributes to the formation of a resilient and supportive school community.

The skills gained provide a strong foundation to support not only the school community, but in also helping to bridge the connection of home, school and community. Applying the Two Rules philosophy to not only the school community, but to all environments, significant changes will be seen and felt.

It feels great to have one of your former bosses be so excited about your book! Mark Denman has been part of education for more than four decades. He retired not that long ago and as he retired one of the schools in the district was named after him. What a tribute to him and his service.

We have continued to stay connected since his retirement and it is such a pleasure to know how much he truly loves the district, people and community he served. He is still very active in the community and serves on many boards. He really is part of the solution daily in the Danville community.

I thank him for his continued support, encouragement and belief in what I do to support education. We can together be the solution we need in education today.

The Power of Empathy:

A Key to Mental Health and Resilience in a Challenging World

In an increasingly complex and demanding world, navigating the intricate web of life often feels like a daunting task. The importance of building resilience, social awareness, self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and effective decision-making cannot be overstated. These skills are the building blocks of a successful and well-balanced life, impacting our physical, mental, social, spiritual, and academic well-being. It is in this context that "Two Rules" comes to the forefront, offering a simple yet powerful philosophy that incorporates the power of choice and equips us with the tools to enhance these essential life skills. These skills, in turn, play a crucial role in addressing the social-emotional, mental health, and trauma challenges we have faced and will continue to encounter.

Mental health has become a serious and persistent issue, not only in our schools but also within our professions. The toll of multiple pressures, uncertainty, and the accumulated experiences from the past few years has left a heavy burden on our sense of well-being, our attitudes toward life and each other, and even our physical health. We're often reminded to practice self-care, strive for balance, and take a long-term view. While these are sound principles, there are moments when the emotional burdens we bear exceed our capacity to handle them on our own. That's when empathy emerges as a powerful counterforce.

Empathy, distinct from sympathy, involves understanding and sharing the experiences, perceptions, and feelings of others. It is a dynamic and two-way form of connection, bridging the gaps between individuals and fostering a deeper understanding of the human experience.

Empathy isn't merely a feel-good sentiment; it has the potential to significantly impact our mental health and overall well-being. Let's explore six additional ways in which empathy can support us in this challenging world:

  1. Building Trust: Empathy promotes authenticity and transparency. It seeks to understand rather than validate our existing beliefs, helping us see the positive intentions of others while dispelling suspicions and negative assumptions.
  2. Forming and Maintaining Relationships: Empathy nurtures a sense of connectedness and belonging. Even during times of conflict and disagreement, it can help relationships endure and thrive.
  3. Reducing Anger and Frustration: Empathy allows us to value the perspectives of others, mitigating hostility and promoting understanding. It serves as a counterbalance to the negative effects of chronic anger on our mental health.
  4. Discovering Solutions: Empathy encourages open and creative communication, facilitating the emergence of solutions to challenges and conflicts. Through empathy, we can engage in open, honest, and respectful exploration, leading to mutual understanding.
  5. Enhancing Resilience: As we understand the experiences and perspectives of others, we become more aware of and better equipped to regulate our own emotions. The experiences of others can inspire us to face adversity with courage and determination.
  6. Practicing Self-Empathy: We often find ourselves being overly self-critical, especially in challenging and stressful times. By consistently extending empathy to others, it becomes easier to pause, reflect, and develop self-understanding, even allowing us to forgive ourselves when guilt would otherwise overwhelm us.

It's important to note that there are limits to the extent of empathy we can extend. Overextending ourselves emotionally can lead to burnout and diminish the benefits of empathy. As with any behavior, moderation and balance are key.

The power of empathy cannot be understated, particularly in the context of "Two Rules" and its emphasis on building essential life skills. Empathy offers not only an avenue to enhance our relationships with others but also a vital tool to protect our own mental health and resilience. In a world that often feels isolating and demanding, empathy serves as a beacon of hope, reminding us that we are not alone in our struggles and that understanding and connection can light the path to a brighter and more balanced future.

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In the realm of knowledge, where young minds unfold, School beckons children, its stories yet untold.

Beyond mere subjects, a universe does reside, Where laughter and wonder, in harmony, coincide.

School is not just textbooks and lessons in array, But a sanctuary where kids embrace the day.

Where giggles and friendships dance hand in hand, Where curiosity thrives, like footprints in the sand.

Teachers, like guiding stars, ignite a love so bright, Fanning flames of passion, in every child's sight.

They unlock doors to wisdom, with hearts full of grace, Nurturing dreams and talents, in each unique case.

For education, a treasure, a beacon in the night, A compass to guide us, through shadows and light.

It molds our character, fuels our eager minds, Ignites the flame of progress, in all that it finds.

Let's cherish this gift, a foundation so strong, For learning's embrace shall forever belong.

A priority we must safeguard, with unwavering might, To ensure generations flourish, in knowledge's sacred light.

So, let's celebrate the classrooms, where dreams take flight, Where minds blossom, reaching for stars so bright.

For school is a sanctuary, a harbor for the soul, Where joy and discovery unite to make us whole.


Many are enjoying a short summer break. The school bell will ring, and all students and staff will return for a year full of teaching and learning. In the words shared above, what are the ones which stand out to you? Which ones can you feel in your heart? Is this what you want from a school year? Did you have this as a child?

Take a few moments to breathe in the words shared.

In the garden of society, we sow our deeds, Reaping the fruits of our words and our creeds. With haste, we rushed, neglecting to ponder, The wisdom found in Two Rules to ponder.

To feel the warmth of unity's embrace, And find solace in a safe learning space, We must pause and reflect before we engage, Asking questions to guide us on life's stage.

A choice lies before us, solution or plight, Shall we be part of darkness or embrace the light? Responsibility beckons, its call crystal clear, Understanding our needs, erasing all fear.

Let us learn from the past, our actions rewind, Nurturing growth, compassion intertwined. For in addressing problems with utmost care, We'll find the path to harmony, beyond compare.

So, let's heed these words, etched in wisdom's scroll, Embracing Two Rules to make society whole. Together we'll cultivate a future so bright, Where compassion and understanding ignite.


All you have to do is email me at yohobren@gmail.com, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @BrendaYoho. I can help you begin to implement Two Rules School. I am not selling anything but giving you the ability to simplify your approach to achieve success by shifting to allow students to take the lead in all they do.

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An article in Education Week, provides a look at teacher biases and school culture in shaping discipline. Research has consistently shown that racial disparities exist in school discipline, with Black and Latino students facing harsher and more frequent disciplinary actions compared to their white counterparts. A study published in December 2022 shed light on the significant role of bias in contributing to these disparities in two interconnected ways.

Anne Gregory, a professor at Rutgers University, emphasized the need to support teachers in reflecting on their relationships with students and identifying their implicit biases. She advocated for moving away from a perspective that blames teachers and instead focusing on improving and reflecting on their practices.

Jessika Bottiani, a professor at the University of Virginia, highlighted the long-term strategies of diversifying the teacher workforce, investing in culturally responsive teaching, and promoting social-emotional learning. These approaches contribute to creating school cultures of belonging and respect, which can proactively address misbehavior.

There is also a need for a shift in mindset regarding the purpose of school discipline. Rather than emphasizing control and conformity, Bottiani argued for a focus on understanding and meeting students' developmental and psychological needs, as well as leveraging their cultural strengths to enhance engagement.


Two Rule Philosophy, supports the research evidence collected in prevention and intervention when addressing school discipline and culture. The practices, procedures, professional development and systems in Two Rules Philosophy is a positive step in development of eliminating several of the areas we have been working for decades to improve.

Two Rule Philosophy, which emphasizes self-discovery and understanding of how teachers' actions impact the lives of students they serve. An activity from Two Rules, "How do we see?" fosters discussion among staff, where they create visual representations of students and share details about them, encouraging reflection on biases and perceptions.

The implementation of the Two Rules Philosophy emphasizes choice as a foundation. Students begin by utilizing questions to ask themselves to understand how to problem-solve before making a choice. Responsibility, consequences, accountability, and leadership are the “what” for students; making a choice is the “how” they solve, and the “why” is reflecting on all of the steps leading to the point where they are right now. It takes a little longer to work through, but well worth the time. As students learn how to do the process, the problems they face are handled better with all of the skills they are learning.


During the "How do we see?" activity where staff members create visual representations of students and share their perceptions, it can be a powerful moment when someone stops and recognizes a pattern. In the scenario described, a staff member pointed out that all the students created were depicted in a negative light. This realization highlights the potential presence of implicit biases within the group. My team had an ah-ha moment.

Such a moment provides an opportunity for reflection and discussion among the staff. It is important to create a safe and non-judgmental environment where individuals can openly express their observations and concerns. Encourage staff members to explore why their collective perceptions may lean toward negativity and what underlying biases or assumptions might be influencing their views. Pointing out the good, bad and sometimes the ugly is all good when we are working to continue to improve.

This awareness can serve as a starting point for addressing biases and promoting a more equitable and inclusive perspective. Staff members can engage in discussions about the impact of these biases on their interactions with students and how they can work towards more balanced and fair assessments of student behavior and potential.

Additionally, this realization emphasizes the need for ongoing professional development and training that focuses on cultural competence, implicit bias, and fostering positive relationships with students. By fostering an environment of reflection, learning, and growth, staff members can strive to create a more inclusive and supportive educational experience for all students—the model for your staff that you would like to see in the classroom. You are the facilitator and allow them to lead toward self-awareness, self-discovery, self-management, relationship skills, social awareness, and decision-making. The core areas mentioned previously can be worked on during a single activity when the facilitator asks simple questions like: “Tell me more. How would you do that in the classroom? What else?” Having wait time is so important during this time, so everyone has time to think.

Take these opportunities to build up and not tear down. As I have stated, "Education is something we do with children, not to them." At our institutions, our primary focus is to provide the strong academic foundations needed for each child's growth. Along this journey, we strive to assist them in gaining the skills required to become the best versions of themselves. However, academic excellence and the development of healthy engaged individuals cannot be achieved without addressing all areas of students' needs. Each day, we witness the mental, physical, and social traumas that our children face. As responsible adults, it is our duty to acknowledge this and provide the necessary support systems to address these challenges. We work collaboratively with parents, families, schools, communities, and organizations, pooling our efforts to ensure success at every stage of life. The failure or success of a child is not solely the responsibility of one entity but rather the collective commitment to providing the best opportunities for all.

The following are pages to utilize to prepare a “How do you see?” Activity for your staff or team. The materials you need for the activity depends on the number of staff and room you have available. We used construction paper, string, yarn, scissors, glue, buttons, magazines, pipe cleaners, markers, pencils, and any scrap art supplies you may have available to use. Then you have to decide how you will display the works of art. We had plenty on wall space to help us put them up.

The discussions you have as a result of the activity is the most important part of the activity. I am a little older so I will reference a couple of visuals for you to utilize during the activity. Use what will work with your team and time you have. All of this is a resource for you to utilize. If you want more clarification on how to approach, what to say and any what if’s, just contact me. I am happy to help you make this activity work for you.

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Two Rules foundation is about choices
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The current Biden administration has announced that they have three initiatives to help support the National Mental Healthcare Crisis facing our youth today.

These initiatives are undoubtedly crucial steps in the right direction, as they recognize the urgent need for support. However, it is important to acknowledge that they alone will not completely resolve all the issues tied to this crisis.


Reflecting on my experience as an administrator in the education sector several years ago, I vividly recall encountering students on a daily basis who were grappling with varying degrees of mental and emotional health challenges. Unfortunately, this trend persisted throughout my career, with the needs of students only growing more pronounced over time. Now they are at an all time high in classrooms across the country and we can see many of the issues in our society.

Realizing the gravity of the situation, I dedicated myself to forging partnerships with external organizations and individuals who could provide additional support to our school. We even made office space available for these groups, enabling them to meet and assist students. These organizations proved to be invaluable, as they possessed the competence to secure parental consent and bill Medicaid for eligible students.

It was primarily the students eligible for Medicaid who benefited from these services, and they will likely continue to be the main beneficiaries under the proposed plans. However, we all benefitted from having these individuals in our building to provide us with a model of how to handle conversations and to model for us.

These interventions undoubtedly made a significant impact years ago, and I am confident they will continue to benefit students. However, if we are to truly address this crisis, we must incorporate additional layers of support and interventions, foster partnerships with families and communities, and move beyond merely applying a bandage to a wound that is at risk of bursting. The alarming rise in suicides, violent behaviors, and crimes serves as evidence of the inadequacy of our current approach.

Enter the "Two Rule School" philosophy and plan—an approach that guides us through each school day, promoting consistency in expectations, learning, and the establishment of a positive culture.

This approach empowers students by teaching them about the choices they have and the responsibility and consequences tied to those choices. The Two Rule School method cultivates problem-solving skills, resilience, relationship-building abilities, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and much more.

We must address the needs of our children through multiple layers of support, helping them navigate their journey towards success. As I have often said, "Education is something we do with children, not to them." By working together to meet their needs on a daily basis and showing them that we can help them overcome barriers, we can make a lasting impact.

Achieving this requires a collaborative partnership between the home, school, and community. Only by working together can we bring about the necessary shifts to support all our children as they develop into the leaders of tomorrow. It is not the responsibility of a single entity, but rather a collective effort that will ensure the best possible outcomes for our children. Parents are responsible for their children in every way. We have no rights in taking their responsibilities from them. We have a system to report suspected abuse, which then makes the determination if the child is safe in their environment. Education is a home, school and community partnership.

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2023 Brenda Yoho
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