Improvement is No Longer the Challenge

The last two weeks have provided me with two wonderful and inspiring moments that I never saw coming. I had the great pleasure and honor of speaking to 8 students who were nominated in our area for the Daughter of the Revolution Good Citizen Award and money for college. I was contacted by one of the members a few weeks back and was so honored.IMG_2938

This was a challenge for me personally. I have spoken to high school students before. Usually, it has been a large audience where you inspire them to move beyond average. I have done this type of speech several times.

This presentation was different. This was more intimate. We are talking about 8 high school seniors who have a resume a mile long, doing amazing things, and are just some of the finest examples of what students are capable of doing and being.

To be honest, preparing for this speech and also sitting at the head table waiting to speak I have never been so nervous for a presentation like I was for this. I did not want to disapoint. I did not want to be another adult spewing some generic jargon about how great they are. I wanted to challenge them. To inspire them to realize that there is more to do withouth adding more to their plates. To not only celebrate them, but to give them some wisdom that nobody has told them.

I titled, the speech “Improvement is No Longer the Challenge” and I wanted to expose them to what I believe are four hidden truths that nobody is telling them.

I did my research. I looked up each student to make sure that indeed these were hidden truths. To my surprise I was correct. These amazing students have stories that need to be told, but nobody is telling the story. Who better than the students themselves? I knew I had something to deliver at this point.

Below is my presentation. I synced up my audio to the slides. The audio is not great as I used my iPad, but it does the job.

In the end I felt good about things. I rehearsed this presentatoin more times than I care to admit. It started with 107 slides for a 15 minute presentation and in the end I knocked it down to under 70.

I hope you enjoy and welcome any feedback and criticism. I have listened to it a few times and already made notes about things to change, errors in speaking flow, and a couple mishaps of not articulating certain parts properly.


Afterwards each student came up and thanked me. This meant more than anything I could have asked for and just goes to show how special these students are in terms of maturity. I was told this was the best speech this reception has ever had and I was beyond moved by these words from the wonderful ladies of DAR. It was a fabulous reception and this speech is held near and dear to my heart. This speech become my own personal AHA moment and I have a vision for who I am and who I want to become. I feel like things have lined up nicely in the last few moments for my lightbulb to turn on and I am jacked to finally have some clarity.

Additionally, I was asked by another amazing and profound educator Stacey Ryan from Kansas to speak to 45 WEB 8th grade students. They were celebrating all that they have done and discussing next steps in their journey as they head into high school. This can be a daunting transition especially when you have been viewed as a leader for a few years in middle school and feel like you are starting over when you enter high school.

We Skyped locations and I had a short window to speak to them as well. I took the framework from the speech above and shifted things a bit to adhere to the needs of this audience. If you would like to know more please reach out to me.

Below is my virtual double high five ending the session!


This was another honor. I am so inspired speaking to students. They are eager to learn and want to absorb quality information. I wish I had more time to speak with all of these students and learn from them. There is so much to gained by hearing their stories, listening to their voices, and finding out what makes them tick. This is something I wish to work on in the future. Finding more ways to engage with the students and audience in a more personal way to understand them more.

Thank you to DAR and Stacey for allowing me to share my knowledge and my message. I will not forget either of these experiences as they challenged me to be my best and to help me reflect on what my value and brand is to the world.

Until next time.

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2 thoughts on “Improvement is No Longer the Challenge

  1. Aaron, the enthusiasm and passion in your voice as you addressed both groups of students inspired me! As you spoke, I made a list of students I need to connect with TOMORROW to share some of the gems you dropped on these kids: Are you connected with the experts? Do people know what they’re getting when they connect with you? Go against the grain–risk! Yesterday’s greatness is today’s mediocrity. You can’t grow by staying predictable and ordinary. There’s no map and no shortcut. An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory!

    Hope you don’t mind if I share this vision — most of my students know you as Coffeechug — and though I won’t have time to show the videos, they’ll definitely know they’re your words and sentiments!

    My 26 year-old son living in Canada called tonight as I viewed your videos. I shared several of your key points — hopefully inspiring some self-reflection and action in a different generation. Maybe if we all get busy motivating these younger generations something will start improving in our world!

    With appreciation and applause,

    • That is awesome to heard. Thank you for reaching out and taking time to let me know your thoughts. I am honestly honored and moved by your comments. Please feel free to use what you like. The reason I share is for others to be inspired and use themselves. If you ever need anything let me know. You are right in that we must all play a part to get the kids pushing forward. By ourselves we can only do so much, but collectively we can make a big impact.