This time of year for those in education is the time where we need a little extra fuel in our cups. Kids are testing so they need a little extra. Staff are working to help keep students motivated and fueled, so they need extra fuel themselves. Let’s face it we all need it to try to keep up with everything right now as the world keeps turning and throwing curve balls pretty fast at times.

Start out your morning with a full cup! Take just five minutes to calm yourself. Plug your ears with your favorite noise or no noise at all. Fill up your cup with the words you need to hear throughout the day. Do a few exercises of the best kind, smiling. Look around to find the things, people, places, and special memories which make you smile. Keep those in your cup and use them throughout the day. At the end of the day, store up all you collected from the day to fill up your cup for a brighter day tomorrow. Remember, your cup is your source of strength and inspiration. Keep it full, and let it overflow with positivity, ready to tackle whatever challenges come your way.

In the realm where love's sweet passion reigns, Lead with Two Rules, where harmony remains.

Not mere words to echo in the breeze, But sentiments that comfort, soothe, and ease.

For every heart yearns for a gentle embrace, A sanctuary of love, a sacred space.

Especially for the young, eager to explore, Guidance and safety are what they implore.

It's not solely one's duty, nor just a few, But a collective effort, a mission true.

Together as kin, as school, as society, We mold a world of kindness and piety.

With just one soul igniting the flame, A blaze of hope, no darkness can claim.

As we unite in love, as we take our stand, The shadows fade at our touch, at our hand.

Let love be our beacon, our guiding light, In every action, in every plight.

For in sharing love, in every which way, We build a world where Two Rules hold sway.

So let us embrace, today and forevermore, The power of love, let it deeply pour.

For in this union, in this divine display, We craft a world where love will forever stay.

In the sanctuary of our souls, a haven we seek, Lead with Two Rules, when courage we speak.

Guidance, a beacon, through darkness it gleams, To think, to ponder, before we let words stream.

Safety, a fortress, not just for our own, But for every heart, in every zone.

Learning the steps of problem-solving bright, Navigating storms, with wisdom's light.

Self-awareness, a mirror, reflecting our truth, Social awareness, connecting our youth.

Self-regulation, the helm we hold tight, Guiding our ship through the darkest of night.

In the tapestry of life, feeling safe we weave, Fear's heavy burden, we shall deceive.

Resilience our ally, as we rise and transcend, Facing everything, until fear meets its end.

Lead with Two Rules, in every deed, A symphony of safety, for all in need.

In this world of trials, where challenges loom,

Let love and safety forever bloom.

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.


Resilience is not just a buzzword; it's a vital component of a child's ability to navigate life's challenges. In recent years, it has garnered significant attention as researchers delve into its importance in shaping a child's mental health and overall well-being. As educators, parents, and community members, we play a pivotal role in fostering resilience in our children, providing them with the tools they need to thrive in the face of adversity.

In the pursuit of understanding and nurturing resilience, resources such as the twelve childhood resilience factors outlined in Chapter 4, serve as invaluable guides. This chapter underscores the significance of building a supportive culture and climate within homes, schools, and communities. It emphasizes the crucial role of trusted adults and accessible resources in empowering children to overcome challenges and develop resilience.

Each of us is an integral part of the support system that contributes to a child's resilience. Whether we are educators, parents, or community members, we have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children every day. By fostering trusting relationships and creating inclusive environments where every individual feels valued and supported, we can help children navigate trauma and adversity with resilience and strength.

Think about all of the people you encounter in a day and the ways you can approach the interaction in a more meaningful way. Trusting relationships with students are a pathway to healing and sometimes even survival for students who have experienced trauma. For many students in your building, trauma will not be a past experience. They will be in the midst of trauma that is with them every day.

We Can

What I would like all of us to work together to do right now is three things to help our homes, schools, and communities to begin to “Feel Good & Feel Safe.”

I suggest prioritizing three key areas to make a meaningful impact. Trying to tackle more or fewer often leads to ineffectiveness. Especially now, it's crucial to offer positive role models who exemplify how, what, and why change is necessary. We must cultivate inclusive environments where everyone feels valued and belongs. It's essential to address challenges with tangible actions, not just words, and ensure accessible support systems for those in need.

Let me clarify an essential aspect of our blueprint's intentions. We're not fostering individuals who succumb to victimhood, make excuses, or seek others to solve their problems. I've crafted this blueprint from my personal journey of choosing resilience over victimhood, emphasizing proactive responses over reactive ones. When faced with setbacks, we rise stronger, gaining insight and confidence. I emphasize the significance of our choices and the accountability we bear for them.

We cannot control things that happen to us, but we can control how we respond. We choose daily.

Have you ever went back to your neighborhood where you grew up? Do you still live in your neighborhood or community where you grew up?

Having lived in various places, we settled back home since our daughter was almost three, and now she's a mother of three herself—aged 16, 9, and 6. While my childhood neighborhood has changed, a few familiar faces remain, like Charlotte and Kirby.

Charlotte contacted me about my book, prompting a delightful visit where we reminisced about our tight-knit community's vigilance over us kids. We talked about all of her family and shared a little about mine. Kirby shared anecdotes about my dad I did not know or recall. It was fun to hear about the two of them working together for the city. My dad then began work at the GM plant. He later even produced a brick from the old Frazier school, where I went to school as a child and later taught before its closure.

Our neighborly bonds were profound and secure, their pride in my achievements evident. They wanted to know a little about the book and I told them it was about my approach to education. Kirby, however, intrigued, leaned back and asked, "How did you venture into teaching when your dad couldn't read or write?"

I explained to Kirby that my journey is detailed in the book, yet on that day, I didn't offer a clear response. I believe I didn't simply choose education as my career path—it was a series of doors closing and opening by a higher power. God guided me, instilling a passion for service and altruism, where giving without expectation became ingrained. Witnessing the smiles and successes of those I've touched fills me with profound joy. My initial teaching role, bestowed upon me by Minister Leon Korb at Cumberland Presbyterian Church, teaching Sunday School to young children, seemed insignificant at the time. Only later did I realize it was my true calling.

So blessed by the greatness of so many who were and are part of my life journey. I am grateful always.

In the realm of education, the Two Rules serve as a powerful promise to students: a commitment that the school environment is designed to be a space where they not only feel good but also feel safe. These rules form the foundation of a unique approach that aims to foster social and emotional growth among students, addressing challenges that extend far beyond the classroom.

The issues that bring students to the office are not trivial; they are the beginning of a profound journey of self-discovery and learning about the complexities of human relationships. Some students grapple with understanding the concept of consent, while others navigate the intricacies of friendship. Some are in the process of learning how to control their tempers, while others are discovering how to gracefully handle moments of defeat and loss of face. The overarching theme is that each student is on a unique path to becoming a trusted and responsible individual.

The strength of the Two Rules system lies in its ability to frame every conversation in a manner that highlights the benefits to the students themselves. Instead of placing blame, condemning, or focusing on punishment, the conversations with students facing challenges revolve around demonstrating the influential power of their choices. This approach empowers students by showing them that, in every moment, they possess the agency to make choices that can either enhance their lives or complicate them further.

It is crucial to clarify that the Two Rules system is not about coddling students or making excuses for their behavior. On the contrary, it upholds the highest standards of behavior. The emphasis is on accountability, self-reflection, and personal responsibility. By guiding students through conversations that illuminate the consequences of their choices, educators using the Two Rules system encourage a deep understanding of how individual actions shape the trajectory of one's life.

In essence, the Two Rules create an environment where students are not only educated academically but are also equipped with the essential social and emotional skills needed for success in life. Through this approach, students are not merely recipients of rules but active participants in their own personal development, preparing them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

As an educator, providing students with authentic learning experiences is always a priority. Eva Kor provided me with the opportunity to give students her perspective of what the Holocaust was like as a twin. She and her sister were part of the experiments conducted during the Holocaust. Witnessing her engage with students and share her personal story was truly remarkable.

We need to continue to have these conversations with those who can provide us with rich value from history. Eva and her sister have passed away, but her recorded interviews, the field trips students attended and her writings provide us with her knowledge.

History is important and I am thankful to learn from it.

In the transformative journey of implementing Two Rules—Feeling Good and Feeling Safe—in education, Chapter 2 of "Lead with Two Rules: Feeling Good and Feeling Safe" serves as the gateway to establishing a culture dedicated to keeping promises to students, staff, families, and communities. The focus is on creating an environment where everyone walking through the school doors feels good and safe. This blog post delves into the pivotal aspects highlighted in the chapter, emphasizing the foundational role of trust and the principles of servant leadership.

Addressing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs: Historically, addressing the emotional needs of students has not been a top priority in the educational model. However, the chapter underscores the significance of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, emphasizing the necessity of addressing basic needs first before achieving any other educational goals. The commitment to prioritizing the personal needs of students sets the stage for a holistic and student-centered approach.

Establishing Trust as the First Step: The chapter stresses the paramount importance of establishing trust as the initial step in the journey towards a Two Rules culture. Trust is the linchpin that binds the school community together. To support this journey, the resource list at the end of the chapter includes valuable recommendations, with one standout resource being "Simple Truths of Leadership: 52-Week Game Plan for Becoming a Trusted Servant Leader" by Ken Blanchard & Randy Conley.

Key Truths from "Simple Truths of Leadership": The blog post highlights three key truths from the recommended resource, each contributing to the development of a strong Two Rules culture.

  1. Truth #1: "Servant Leadership" is presented as a powerful approach that integrates achieving great results and fostering great relationships. By focusing on both vision and direction for results and working collaboratively with people, leaders can ensure the accomplishment of goals while maintaining positive relationships within the school community.
  2. Truth #5: Building a positive culture and developing individuals is facilitated by Truth #5—catching people doing something right. The importance of authentic feedback, immediate recognition, and consideration for individual sensitivities are highlighted as essential components of this truth.
  3. Truth #8: The Best Minute Servant Leaders Spend: Highlighting the value of investing time in others. Getting to know everyone in the workplace personally, making connections, and understanding their unique qualities contribute significantly to building a strong foundation for the Two Rules culture.

The Two Rules culture, grounded in feeling good and feeling safe, begins with the establishment of trust and the application of servant leadership principles. By embracing these foundational elements, school leaders pave the way for a positive, supportive, and transformative educational environment that benefits everyone within the school community. As the journey unfolds, the commitment to trust and servant leadership becomes the cornerstone for a thriving Two Rules school and workplace.

This week on Principal Center Radio, Brenda Yoho joins me for a delightful interview that instantly become one of my favorites out of 400+ interviews: 
Listen To This Interview »
We discuss: Brenda's childhood experience of being falsely accused of forging her mother's signature—and how it impacted her practice as a school leader and let to the two rulesWhat Brenda's high school teachers did differently to make her feel good and safe. A blueprint for fostering mental health, addressing trauma, and meeting social-emotional needs in schoolsHow Brenda established trust with students as a new principal (which shocked teachers, but worked) Brenda Yoho's career in public education spanned more than 25 years, as a teacher, elementary principal, middle school principal, and director.

She provides encouragement and leadership advice at, and coaches and mentors school leaders. She is the author of Lead with Two Rules: Feeling Good and Feeling Safe.

Listen to our interview here »

You can listen to Principal Center Radio on YouTubeSpotifyiTunes or wherever you get podcasts!

Justin Baeder, PhD
Director, The Principal Center

Dianna Kirk was the Human Resource Director of Danville District 118 when I first met her. I was at that time a first year administrator in a neighboring district. We met at an Illinois Principals Association Region meeting and our friendship began.

In the journey of relationships, building a strong foundation begins with getting to know someone on a personal level. In my experience, taking the time to understand her and her family before she became my boss laid the groundwork for a lasting connection.

Even after retirement, our friendship endures. Her guiding principle of leading with the heart in both life and work has left a profound impact. Considering the human factor and always being a listening ear, she is not just admired but cherished by those fortunate enough to know her.

During a meeting with Superintendent Nanette Mellen Finkle, she expressed that Dianna Kirk stood out as the most exceptional Human Resource Director. Dianna's approach was marked by a genuine love for people, adept listening skills, effective communication, and collaborative teamwork. Her meticulous attention to detail and organizational prowess reflected a purposeful and commendable dedication to her role.

It took me a very long time before I could address her as Dianna. I called her Mrs. Kirk for years even though we were friends. We were professionals and she is respected.

Leaders need to build trusting relationships and need to model for others the importance of each individual they serve.

Dr. Kherat was hired to be the Assistant Superintendent in the district I was serving. One of the first leadership decisions she made was selecting the director of educational support programs to work along side her. There was a selection committee who participated in interviewing potential candidates. I was one of those individuals. She selected me for the position. I worked along side her during her time in the district.

Leadership is not merely about making decisions and giving orders; it's also about understanding the people you lead on a personal level. One crucial aspect of effective leadership is getting to know your staff and their families. Building positive relationships with employees and their families can have a profound impact on team dynamics, trust, and overall organizational success.

Leaders who actively engage with their staff and families create a positive and motivating work environment. Engaged employees are more likely to be committed to their work, take initiative, and contribute to the overall success of the organization. This engagement is a result of the trust and positive relationships built by leaders who take the time to know their team.

My husband and I spent some time at her home. He fixed a few things for her, but she brought him gifts after she visited home. She always asked about how he was doing and also about my daughter and granddaughter. She would always praise when work was accomplished and encouraged.

The importance of leaders getting to know their staff and families cannot be overstated. It goes beyond professional interactions and involves a genuine interest in the well-being and success of each team member. Building positive relationships, trust, and providing support contribute not only to the success of individual employees but also to the overall success and cohesion of the entire organization.

The Power of One Word

In a world filled with constant noise, complexity, and the perpetual pursuit of improvement, finding a way to simplify and focus can be a game-changer. One such powerful method is the concept of choosing One Word for the year. This intentional practice has proven to be a catalyst for life-changing transformations, offering a pathway to clarity, success, and fulfillment. Several books have been written about One Word. The most popular is probably the one authored by Dan Britton, Jimmy Page and Jon Gordon. Another book is authored by Mike Ashcroft and Rachel Olsen. I have utilized One Word with all of those I coach and mentor.

The Problem with Resolutions:

New Year's resolutions often set us up for failure. The enthusiasm for change is palpable in January, but as the year progresses, the initial zeal wanes, and resolutions are left by the wayside. Resolutions are easy to make and to break. The need for a targeted approach to support the overall well-being is the best approach.

The Simplicity and Focus of One Word:

In contrast to the overwhelming nature of resolutions, One Word encourages simplicity and focus. By selecting a single word that encapsulates your intentions for the year, you cut through the clutter and complexity that often lead to procrastination. This focused approach brings clarity and success by addressing the core of your intentions.

The Three-Step Process:

1. LOOK IN: Prepare Your Heart

In the midst of life's chaos, taking a deliberate pause allows for introspection and the contemplation of essential queries: What do I truly need, and what obstacles hinder my path? This intentional break from the clamor sets the stage for the profound introspection necessary to identify your One Word. Despite the common advice to "listen to your heart," conflicting messages caution against leading solely from the heart. Leadership guidance often presents a paradox, creating confusion. However, when embarking on the journey to select a guiding word for the year, it is the heart where the exploration begins. Within its chambers resides your "why" and the essence of your life's purpose.

2. LOOK UP: Discover Your Word

Once your heart is prepared, plug in and listen up. This step involves creating a peaceful space to allow your word to come to you. It's not about forcing a decision but rather being open to the word that resonates with your aspirations for the year. Many words can dance around your head as you think about all the things you have on your list to do. Slow your thoughts and focus on what is the common word which develops from all of these thoughts. In this tranquil atmosphere, let the essence of that word guide your intentions and actions throughout the upcoming journey.

3. LOOK OUT: Live Your Word

Armed with your chosen word, set forth on the adventure of embodying it across every facet of your existence. This marks the true enchantment, as you integrate your word into the realms of your mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and financial dimensions. Extend this commitment to your inner circle, fostering both accountability and support. By keeping your One Word at the forefront, you establish a daily compass for purpose and passion. Consistently revisiting your chosen word becomes a guiding force, steering you in the right direction and anchoring your journey.

The Impact of One Word:

Choosing One Word transforms your life across multiple dimensions:

Live Your Word:

One Word is not just a concept; it's a call to action. By strategically looking in, looking up, and looking out, you pave the way for a year of growth, purpose, and fulfillment. So, embark on this journey, live your word to its fullest, and witness the positive impact it has on every dimension of your life.

If you're ready to embrace simplicity, focus, and transformative change, join the One Word movement and make this year the most rewarding and exciting one yet. Please share your One Word with all of us as you welcome in 2024!

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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