Success Stories

Jenny Affentranger, Principal

Bethel Lower Elementary School
Bethel, OK

While waiting for her daughter to come out of a doctor’s appointment, Jenny Affentranger, Principal of Bethel Lower Elementary School in Shawnee, OK, picked up Jill Garner’s, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World, and began reading.  She enjoyed the book so much, she asked if she could borrow the book to finish reading it.  At the time she had a month old baby at home, so the book sat untouched on an end table in her living room for over a year.  When Jenny, Mrs. Affy as her students know her, was able to finish the book, she learned about Manners of the Heart’s heart education program.  She knew her school needed a program like Manners of the Heart.  During the 2013-2014 school year, Bethel Lower Elementary School had 159 disciplinary referrals.  With only 323 students, that referral rate equaled about a referral a day. Rather than purchase MOH and forcing her teacher’s to teach it, she created a teacher committee to find the perfect program for the school.  The committee researched over a dozen programs, but unanimously agreed on Manners of the Heart.  The school sold cookie dough and t-shirts through its activity fund to finance Manners of the Heart and was able to fully implement the heart education program in the 2014-2015 school year.  Rather than just teach the weekly lessons and perform the daily reinforcement lessons, Bethel Lower Elementary School redesigned their monthly recognition program to be centered on Manners of the Heart.  They pick one heart attribute each month to focus on, and a student is recognized for their display of this trait at the Wednesday with Wilbur recognition program.  The school even purchased an owl mascot, and a 74-year old retired teacher dresses up as Wilbur and makes an appearance at the program.  After just one year of implementation, Jenny has seen a 58% reduction in disciplinary referrals and a 34% increase in reading proficiency.  “It is a program that works and has positively impacted the lives of many students at Bethel Lower Elementary!” said Mrs. Affy. 

Joelle Harps, Parent

Baton Rouge, LA

“It’s always been known that there is no parent handbook, but I was surprised to find that Mrs. Jill had actually put something together” said Joelle, a kindergarten parent in Baton Rouge, LA. Joelle is not the typical parent. She goes above and beyond for the schools her children attend.  From volunteering in the school library to attending Manners of the Heart Professional Parent Development sessions, Joelle is dedicated to the well-being of her family and community.  Not surprisingly Joelle was present at all 5 MOH parent seminars in the 2014-2015 school year.  The MOH Professional Parent Development workshops are based on founder, Jill Garner’s, parenting books, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World and Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World. Joelle aligned these books with a parenting handbook.  She learned parenting strategies, like establishing self-respect not self-esteem, living in the mirror not the window, and the difference between discipline and punishment, that not only applied to her kindergartener, but also to her college-aged children. Her dedication and attentiveness paid off. Joelle won the drawing at the last parenting workshop to have Manners of the Heart cover one of her bills for the month, just another solid investment for Manners of the Heart.

Alexander V., Manners of the Heart Student

La Belle Aire Elementary
Baton Rouge, LA

Each year our founder is honored to deliver a commencement address to the graduates of La Belle Aire Elementary.  Rather than just deliver a speech, she calls upon the students to define what’s in the heart of a StrongHeart. As the graduates shouted out traits like leadership, trustworthiness, humility, and respect, she writes their responses inside the heart. “What if you make a mistake?” Jill asks, “What happens to your strong heart?” Most of the students say it breaks, melts, or falls apart.  But this year a young man raised his hand and explained that the StrongHeart gets darker and cannot shine light on others. After the ceremony, he approached Jill and introduced himself as Alexander. He thanked her for the lessons he learned through Manners of the Heart because in his words, “It made me the person I am today (Alexander won the citizenship award and academic honors in all subjects).” 

We were honored that a fifth grader, soon to be middle school student, saught us out of the crowd to personally thank us for the impact Manners of the Heart has made on his life.  But from our viewpoint, what made Alexander a true StrongHeart aws seeing him extend his hand to his classmate, Alan, who won Student of the Year. Even though he did not receive the highest award, Alexander celebrated someone else’s victory, just as he had learned through Manners of the Heart.

Breanna and Liszy, Manners of the Heart Students

La Belle Aire Elementary
Baton Rouge, LA

While many schools are dealing with “mean girls” in the fifth grade, one Baton Rouge school is not Fifth graders were given an American History assignment. One of the girls had not turned in her project and was facing a “zero” and conduct marks which meant she would face quite a bit of trouble at home. Without prompting, a fellow classmate stepped in to help. She invited the girl in trouble over to her house to help her research the project. She even purchased a trifold display board for her classmate’s presentation. Now, here’s the real clincher…the girl in trouble had a history of being picked on by other students. She was not a popular girl, but one that other students teased. No typical narcissistic mean girls here. The girl in trouble? She turned in her assignment. Received a high mark and gained the respect of many of her classmates who no longer have anything to tease her about. We surprised these girls and their class with Mrs. Jill’s famous homemade cookies and bookmarks.  The girls each received a heart in hand charm-one for helping a friend in need and one for allowing her to help. These are Manners of the Heart (MOH) kids.  In first grade they learned to be put the needs of others ahead of their wants; and in third grade, they learned to stand up for the child being bullied.  They are living out the lessons of Manners of the Heart.   

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