THOSE KIDS are OUR Kids
Those Kids is a dynamic, powerful, necessary and practical read for anyone working with kids of any age. Based on a true story of trauma, this book will not only change your life and perspective, it will offer you over 26 strategies to work with "Those Kids" who are dying for your understanding and compassion. In college, we learn how to teach content, but we barely touch how to teach human beings, especially those who struggle emotionally. THIS is the foundation educators need in order for any curriculum to stick.
by Heidy LaFleur
Heidy with a WHY, Inc.
Equip administrators, teachers and all educators with practical strategies to make all kids feel successful; especially those who’ve been traumatized, are misunderstood and those who practice frequent detours from what’s expected.
Copyright ©2020 Heidy LaFleur
All rights reserved.
This book shares my story as a mother of a child who was sexually abused in a public school. There may be parts of this story that make you uncomfortable and for that I apologize. In order to learn and grow, I believe that sometimes we have to be moved, shocked and uncomfortable. I share this preface with you because I want to be sensitive to those who’ve been through trauma and understand the heart ache and constant reclaiming of life that it brings. This story comes from deep in my heart and I share it for two reasons. First, because it could have been prevented and I never want another family to suffer as we have. Second, the strategies and stories I share can help all educators understand the power of human connection that our kids crave & will open many eyes to pay close attention to the reason behind behavior.
That said, I present to you practical strategies to work with kids who’ve been traumatized, misunderstood and those who take frequent detours from what’s expected. The following suggestions come from years of experience working with my son, and over 20 years experience working with kids that so badly want to be loved and accepted by adults. Kids who are helped and understood by the adults around them, heal, and reclaim life with time. Kids who don’t get the attention they need and crave, get defiant. They are the really misunderstood ones. They are “Those Kids.”
Know that some refer to“Those Kids” as the needy, annoying, disrespectful ones who take up a lot of our time. The reality is “Those Kids” are OUR Kids and my goal is to teach you how to build relationships with all kids so all kids can thrive. Often educators are not taught how to work with trauma, mental illness, special needs and kids who don’t sit and listen to us. I want to share my understanding of trauma, the importance of your Actions, Words & Expressions (AWE) and how to build a foundation of relationships before all else.
We are all flawed. We need to focus on excellence, not perfection. We need to be better next year than last year. Better next month than this month and better tomorrow than today.
Heidy Pemsl LaFleur's book, "Those Kids are OUR Kids" really hits home. All kids must matter. Their life has a story we all need to understand and give time to. This book is a powerful reminder of what can happen in times of neglect, panic, and being labeled. This is a book for not only educators, but parents and community members to read, understand and experience. There are so many stories, anecdotes, and problem solving perspectives in this book, that it is a must have. Some choices and patterns that have remained in education, "just because", but are so detrimental to our students MUST be looked at, discussed and changed. Heidy brings up topics that must not be ignored.
Thank you for this powerful, emotional and eye opening book that will help us remember to look at each child as an individual, and figure out a way to support them, now.
-Jeff Kubiak, Educator, Author of "One Drop of Kindness", and "It's Me", Speaker and advocate for inclusion and equity in education.
From the introduction, Heidy draws you in to the why you must read this book. As I read the book, I reimagine my purpose and vision as the principal of an inner-city school where many of our students have experienced some form of trauma. If you are looking for a book that will help you and your staff move from thinking “these kids” can’t to “those kids” can, this book is a must read. Those Kids sparks hope and compassion back in the hearts of all as you read and experience the pain and triumphs through Heidy’s personal stories. If you only have one book that you can incorporate and embed into your school culture, Those Kids is it.
-Mrs. Fabian Daniels, Proud Principal, Harrison Community Learning Center, Peoria, Illinois
Certain people come into your life with purpose and understanding. Heidy LaFleur always had the understanding of “those kids”. This true story takes you on a personal journey of trauma to explain how all those years of understanding her students helped her survive. She is a natural leader that gets “it”. Every educator needs this book at the ready. You will not look at any child the same way after reading Those Kids are OUR Kids. “Those kids” frustrate us, confuse us, and emotionally drain us. But what Heidy will teach you is that when you make the connection that child needs – you will never forget “that kid” and that child will never forget the time you took to understand.
--Theresa Hehn, MEd. Curriculum & Instruction, NBCT Adolescence Science, Chicago Public Schools
Today we are facing uncertain times and Heidy's book, Those Kids are OUR Kids is the call to action we need. Her passionate story-telling, her inspiring words, and her dedication to the success of all students is a message we need to keep sharing with educators and communities around the globe. From personal experiences to challenging truths, every page of this book allows the reader to reflect, seek to understand, grow, and lead conversations with those around them in the HOPE of creating positive transformations. Her creativity, her voice, and her unwavering support of trauma-informed practice are quintessential elements for all leadership teams and school families. I am grateful for her courage and strength in sharing words of encouragement.
--Roman Nowak, Teacher/Student Success Leader/Agent of Transformation - Rockland, Ontario, Canada
In today’s world our children are faced with many challenges that sometimes we are not aware of or prepared to handle. Heidy’s message is POWERFUL! Her experiences as an educator and a parent are real and need to be heard by everyone that either has a child or works with children. Heidy is very passionate about helping every adult understand that we can not fix children but we can definitely help them along the way. Her story is real and it has helped adults understand why children may act the way they do. Heidy provides you with tools that help build trust and allow you to understand the needs of the children in your life. She is one of my favorite speakers that I have listened to and her story and creative way of engaging her audience empowers them to want to help EVERY child!
--Dr. Shwkar Abousweilem, 2019 IPA South Cook Elementary Principal of the Year, Principal, Burbank School, Burbank, Illinois
After reading this book, all I can say is POWERFUL! Every single person in education should be required to read this. This is eye-opening and heartbreaking. Empower over Ego is a must, along with Compassion over Curriculum! I loved the solutions and ideas. Even as a teacher going into my 15th year of teaching, I had to reflect on situations and how things were handled. I hope this reaches as many hands as possible!
-Krista Davidson, Second Grade Teacher, Colorado
Heidy LaFleur is a caring visionary who speaks truth in a time of need. Her book “Those kids are OUR kids” is an all-encompassing book that details every kids’ worth. At a time when we need it most, Heidy comes through with a book that gives you the tools to handle any situation. Her vulnerability in telling her personal story will forever endear you to her. Do not let another day go by without getting this book and the 26 strategies that will make you a better teacher, principal, and person. Heidy was a successful long –time principal who uses her failures and successes to tell her story. A genuine person who connects real life experiences to the situations we go through on a daily basis. Her books always resonate with educators and are necessary reads for any educator. She is a real breath of fresh air in the education world. I know you will enjoy getting to know her better through her books and keynote speeches.
-Joe R. Toomey, President, Alabama Association of Secondary Principals, 2020 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award, 2015 National Blue Ribbon School Principal, National Speaker
Thank you Heidy LaFleur for being transparent and writing about your personal experience dealing with trauma as a mother, educator, and wife. The canoe illustration at the beginning and relating it to parenting is fantastic. Your vulnerability and willingness to give insight into your families’ pain and triumph, so that others can get free is refreshing. This resource causes me to re-evaluate how I lead, how I parent, how I teach, and how I train, and work with my own children, students, and adults. Heidy has produced a resource not limited to those serving in education; furthermore it is for adults that are raising and rearing children. This resource provides parenting leadership tools and the framework for resolving conflict through a healthy, balanced and transparent approach. A MUST READ.
-H. Goode, President of Goode Solutions, Author, Speaker, Radio Talk Show Host, Father, Husband
Being able to meet and hear Heidy Pemsl LaFleur speak in person had such a tremendous impact on our school district. With the school year coming to an end and in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, our staff still referenced Heidy’s words from last fall. Being able to have “Those Kids,” in our hands is exciting! Think of all of the departments that will benefit from reading this and having small group discussions; counselors, teachers, associates, bus drivers, etc. We all have those kids every day, don’t we? Thank you for sharing your story and giving us the gift of what does work for all kids, especially those kids!
-Kristin C. Hicks, Associate Director of Student Services, Linn-Mar Community School District
Heidy writes from the heart. She combines years of educational experience and traumatic events her family has endured to give a first hand account of students' behaviors from the other side. An eye opening book that provides educators and parents alike a guide on easy implementable steps and strategies to better reach and understand ALL kids. A powerful book that shows how a slight change in delivery could have a lasting impact on a child's life. It is evident that Heidy is a fighter and someone who cares deeply about children.
-Charlie Curtin, National Board Certified Special Education Teacher, Illinois
I have been in education for 48 years and Heidy is one of the most dynamic and inspirational speakers that I have ever heard. Y'all have a treasure in her.
-Ruth Meche, Principal, St. Christopher School, New Orleans, Louisiana
A Must Read for ANY educator! "Those Kids" is an authentic and heartfelt experience into the true impact of trauma and the courage and tenacity that one family used to stand strong and do what is undeniably best for all students. Those Kids is a truly unique blend of raw emotion paired with simple steps educators can take to ensure that all children are given a voice. This book will leave every educator with feelings of encouragement and influence to ensure that connection is the foundation of our journey with students and to empower educators to see students for who they truly are instead of who we may want them to be. Reading along I was captivated by the author's undeniable ability to share the pain and uncertainty while also sharing hope for all students for our future. Those kids truly are OUR kids!
-Lindsay Titus, M.Ed, BCBA, DEFINE YOUniversity Founder
Heidy LaFleur shares her heartfelt vision for creating a culture of caring in schools that is rooted in her own struggles as a parent, administrator and advocate. Now more than ever for the sustainability of our quality of life, and accessibility to life long learning, her perspective is a needed and welcome voice of reason rooted in experience and a commitment to using her own adversities to help others. Her story of advocating for her son is a comfort to parents struggling to navigate a sometimes confusing and rigid system. Her administrator insight can stretch the perspective of those in the educational trenches.
-Alison Redding, Special Education Director, Chicago, Illinois
Great leadership is established in the opportunity to show up courageously for the communities you serve. In both my work with Heidy and by witnessing her story, I observed just that: a brave educator who is fueled by their power to overcome significant obstacles in parenting as well as teaching and learning through it all. She’s taken these powerful lessons on human relationship- to be who she needed during hard times (and still needs)- to establish an accessible, universal language we can all use while growing our skill set to better serve students and families.
-Claire Oliver, Ed S., NCSP, Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Heidy continues to make it her life's work to help the students who really need it. She has been a teacher, administrator, a professional development speaker, and now she speaks from her soul in her book. Heidy has combined her years as in education and as a mother to create this one of a kind resource. Heidy has made a tool that allows all of us to help each child in our classrooms and schools. Applying these strategies will help change the lives of those kids!
-Elisabeth Betancourt, School Social Worker
In a very honest and raw account of her son’s struggle with PTSD and depression, Heidy self-discloses the struggles she had with her son as he experienced one of the worst situations that a mother fears that her child will go through. The hardship her marriage, family and relationships took was heart-wrenching as she tried to help her son and get the care he deserved. From counselors, to teachers, to administrators, Heidy reached out to plead for help for her child. Having been an educator she knew what protocol was to be followed and oh the frustration she felt because the system had lost itself and its purpose- To help “those kids” feel safe, secure and that they matter.
This book is an eye-opening story, one that is true to the heart, but one that will open the eyes to many educators. It brings us back to the “why” – why did we become educators. Many of us will say- to make a difference in this world. It is now your turn. Make a difference in this world. Read her story. Feel it and hear it. Then continue to read. Heidy has taken effective traits and strategies and created alliterations that explain how educators, teachers and parents can successfully work with children who have gone through trauma.
Pay close attention to each alliteration and take time to reflect. Then remember. Remember that the child sitting in your class may be silently crying out for help. Learn their story, listen to them with an open heart. Know that you can be the difference in that child’s life. After all, as Heidy states, relationships are what will help a child flourish. This book will be a tool you use whether you are just beginning your career as a teacher or as a 30-year veteran. Open the book. Begin to read it because “those kids” are worth it. They need us.
-Brenda Jones, M.Ed., Franklin B. Walter Award Recipient, Kindergarten Teacher, Avon Lake, OH