Keynote speaker Michelle Trujillo inspires students

A mid-morning assembly on April 22 brought Chester Elementary School students together in the school’s gymnasium to listen to educational consultant and former high school principal and author Michelle Trujillo. Photo by Stacy Fisher

Chester Elementary School has been hosting an ongoing series of programs over the past few weeks featuring keynote speakers that engage students in inspirational talks.

A mid-morning assembly April 22 brought fourth- through sixth-graders together in the school’s gymnasium to listen to educational consultant and former high school principal and author Michelle Trujillo (also a seasonal resident at Lake Almanor).

Her goal during her presentations is to build a school climate in which achievement will flourish.

Trujillo’s newest book titled, “Start With the Heart: Igniting Hope in Schools Through Social and Emotional Learning” is a gold mine for supporting students struggling with emotional challenges.

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She emphasizes in her book the importance of how a positive school culture is anchored in conscientious connections to the school community, creating a foundation for trust that fosters a bond between students and educators to feel appreciated, effective and productive.

Chester Elementary students were enthralled as Trujillo, an animated speaker, compellingly steered her discourse with heart and gusto toward an understanding of social and emotional learning in terms that the young students could comprehend.

She further led the student gathering during her talk to appreciate the necessity of lives immersed in kindness and compassion.

“Love is an action word,” Trujillo announced to the assembly, meaning that as human beings we can choose to love through a practice of active respect, and by using kind words and expressing empathy for others.

In this easy-to-read, inspiring book, educational consultant and former high school principal Michelle Trujillo guides educators to explore their own social and emotional learning aptitudes, inspires school-wide investment in a philosophy of connection, and offers ample tools, strategies, and solutions for integrating competencies into the school environment.

Trujillo communicated that empathy is when “somebody wants to tell you what happened to them” and needs someone to listen to their problems, but instead of ignoring their concerns, say “I’m here for you.”

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She also explained to the children, whom she was in constant interaction with, what it meant for someone to be an upstanding individual, striving to do your best at all times even when there are obstacles in your way.

Using a personal anecdote regarding a sibling suffering from a fatal disease that affected her appearance, eliciting derision from other children, Trujillo impressed upon the students that it is the character of a person that counts foremost, and not how they may appear to others.

“When you see someone with a difference, please remind yourself to see the inside of that person instead,” she said. “When you make another person feel good, you feel better about yourself too,” adding that, “Every day, make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

Her challenge to the assembly of students was to always use kind words and be respectful, even when those they meet in life may not be so inclined to reciprocate.

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