Why am I so passionate about transforming education and supporting teachers in every way I can? 

 

Teachers saved my life. School was my escape from the domestic violence and poverty at home and teachers were superheroes who painted a picture of what my future could look like. As a child whose parents dropped out of high school, I desperately wanted something different. I wanted to have the  luxury to buy a home in a neighborhood where my future children could safely play. 

As a child whose family never took vacations, travel was always a beautiful, colorful dream. When teachers shared stories about their summer breaks traveling to study Spanish in Costa Rica or hearing about their college years, I began to dream about my own future possibilities. I yearned to have a career that didn’t require me to wear steel-toed boots. I desperately wanted a life that made me hungry for success … and not just hunger in my stomach.  

My first year as a school counselor I was assigned to work with high school freshmen who were struggling academically or had risk factors for not graduating high school. I reached out and connected with as many students as I could. I knew the power of community, so I brought these students together, listened to them… their needs, their stories... and did everything in my power to make them feel that they were seen, heard and belonged. 

Many of these students had leadership potential, but were not recognized for their strengths. They had big hearts, but sometimes acted in ways that caused others to believe they needed punishment. Some of these 14 and 15 year olds confided in me that they had been told by other adults that they were destined to end up in jail or to be teen parents. I encouraged them to prove those people wrong.  

I saw something different while listening to heartbreaking stories. Some of their families escaped violence. Others expressed they were sick because their heat was turned off at home. Some of the students told me that they rarely attended field trips because they could not afford to go.

They felt so much shame and sadness from being left out of school activities from a young age that by the time they were in high school, they were already disconnected. 

After getting to know these teens, we co-created a student group so that they could have a sense of community and belonging.

We took field trips, volunteered in the community, and even baked cookies together, but more importantly, the group began to feel valued for who they were.  

The following year,  I was able to take 10 students to a youth leadership conference. Initially they felt out of place, but by the next day, were full of smiles and confidence. They learned about restorative justice, healthy relationships, and attended breakout sessions that spoke to their hearts.

At the end of the conference, every group was expected to take the stage to present to the rest of the dozens of students from around the state. 

My students, who often skipped class when it was a presentation day or who had nothing prepared on those days, (I’m sure you have students just like this!) took the stage.

I was so proud of them!

After they spoke about what they learned during those intensive two days, one student became very serious in his expression. He took the mic and said he had something important to say.

He thanked me for bringing him and his classmates to the conference and for believing in them when no one else did. This young man went on to say that I saved his life because I was there for him when he felt that no one else cared.

Another student stepped up. She took the mic and said that she felt the same way. Of course I could feel the tears well up in my eyes! All 10 students expressed agreement and gratitude. By then I could not contain my emotions..the energy created was life-affirming.

I never knew that by giving these students encouragement to show up as the kind of people they desired to be deep within, that they were going to change my life so drastically as well. The emotional response your body has when you know without a doubt that you changed the trajectory of another life is unparalleled.

I knew my purpose in life was to reach as many students as I could.

After years as a school counselor and as a family support worker, I realized that in order to reach more students, I had to expand myself. I needed to create a movement that gives more educators the skillset, toolset and most importantly, the mindset, to massively impact their student's lives. 

During my time in the schools I also witnessed the lack of support and respect teachers experience daily.

I knew that in order to change the dynamics for students, there also needs to be a shift for teachers. Educators deserve to have support in navigating the complexities of today's expectations in education.

Classroom teachers are expected to have mental health knowledge and know how to incorporate social emotional learning into the classroom on top of their already jam-packed schedule yet they typically are not given the training or guidance to effectively do so, or at least to do so without completely burning out!

I am passionate about bringing what I have learned to as many educators as I can and to support them in the process so they can have incredible success stories of their own.

About The Founder

 

Marie Kueny

 Education and Career 

In the Fall of 2000, I entered The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee with a major in elementary education. After attending classes that focused on instructing curriculum rather than teaching children, I found myself desiring to support children in a different way.

A friend recommend I explore social work which I dove deeply into, changing my major and becoming Vice President of the Student Social Work Club.

After graduating with my BSW, I spent several years working directly with families in the community, helping teen moms have healthy pregnancies, providing court-ordered parenting education, and supporting families to obtain needed resources such as food and housing.

In 2008 I earned my Master's degree in Educational Psychology and became licensed as a school counselor so that I could take my passion for empowering children and families back into... yep, that's right ...school!

As a licensed school counselor I utilized my personal strengths and skill set of deeply listening, natural empathy, and creating engaging programming. It also pushed me to expand my comfort zone of public speaking (speaking in front of hundreds of children and their teachers nearly made me run the other direction the first few times!)

Having worked with every grade level from 4K through post-secondary, I learned the ins and outs of what makes the biggest difference for children at every age and stage. Hint? It's the first word this business!

School counseling became my life. Soaking in every PD opportunity I could get, advocating for the profession at the state level and most importantly, witnessing the transformation of my students when they received the emotional support they needed, were definitely highlights!

Then came my first child. Four years later ... my second was born. Leaving them for 8.5+ hours a day nearly broke me. The job became work. Mom guilt was unbearable. Depression and anxiety overwhelmed me as it felt I was caring for everyone's children, except my own. 

I knew there had to be a way I could still make an impact AND be home with my children more. That's when Compassionate Educators was born. 

Compassionate  Educators Begins

In 2019, not only was Compassionate Educators Coaching and Consulting born, but so was The Compassionate Educators Show podcast AND my third child!

I desired to create professional development that would be deeply meaningful for educators. It was important to share knowledge and resources that would make an incredible difference for teachers and their students both in and out of the classroom.

After reaching hundreds of educators globally and supporting many on a deeply individualized level, Compassionate Educators is on a mission to change as many lives as possible through the power of compassion and community building while saying "adios" to burnout!

 To the Future 

Being able to support teachers and staff at the beginning of the 2020 pandemic was humbling, to say the least. Once again, educators rose to the occasion as the superheroes they are. 

It is an honor to create and host personal and professional development for educators around the globe. I'm excited to see what we can accomplish collectively when we work towards bringing more compassion into the lives of children and having radical self-compassion as well!

To register for the next Compassionate Educators cohort to receive the personalized support you deserve, check out more about our program details below. 

 

Looking forward to supporting you!

Learn More About The Compassionate Educators Certification Program

 

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

 

-Norman Vincent Peale