anabel jensenThis is a transcript of the Synapse State of the School Speech, 2013.

Synapse is the Six Seconds lab school and offers an advanced academic curriculum fully integrated with social emotional learning. 

The Synapse program is carefully designed as a model school to demonstrate the power of blending Six Seconds’ emotional intelligence programs with leading-edge instruction (brain-based, project driven, constructivist learning in school-wide themes).

The State of the School speech was delivered by Synapse School CEO, Anabel L. Jensen, on April 24, 2013.


Recently, a search for new leadership was initiated at Synapse.  The result of that six-month project was the hiring of Jim Eagen.  A celebration was held to welcome him to the community.  These are words I shared—the legacy I wish to leave:

Harold Wilson wrote, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”

I want you to know that I welcome this change.  I welcome Jim.  I am excited about possibilities.  Nonetheless, all changes — even those anticipated — have their melancholy, for I am leaving behind me a part of my mind, my heart, and my soul.

I want to share six commitments that I will continue to explore, to grow, and to solidify, as a member of the Synapse community.

First, is the continuance of the Six Seconds’ mission/vision—positive change, everywhere, all the time. 

I will be here in this building holding workshop/seminars for those interested in developing their emotional intelligence.  There will be activities for parents, teachers, and students.  We are planning a new, enlarged office and I will be ably assisted by volunteers to guarantee fun for all.

Second, is the furthering of Synapse’s mission for building and growing change makers. 

I love the mosaic created by the kindergarteners, who want to do something about the plastic garbage in the middle of Pacific Ocean. No one knows how big it is, but some estimates are twice the size of the continental United States.  Then they took a picture, which they put on tote bags and sold for $5.  Forty of them disappeared almost immediately. 

I believe change makers are not born; they are made through trial, error, and experience. For example, I recently saw the movie “42”.  It is the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line within major league baseball.  My father was a humungous baseball fan and so I grew up hearing stories about Jackie stealing bases—even home.  Jackie Robinson asks Branch Hickey, general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, more than once,  “Why are you doing this.”  At first, Branch replies money was his motivation, but then after being pressured, he replies, “I didn’t do enough when I could have.” 

This answer truly resonates with me.  When people ask me why I have not retired, I respond, “I didn’t do enough when I could have; I’m trying to make up for it.”

Positive change—everywhere—all the time.

The third item I am committed to is building problem solvers, who utilize their intelligence to be critical thinkers. 

I believe this requires some specific brain attitudes. They include:  destroy old, useless paradigms, be open to new, flexible ones; be comfortable with complexity and ambiguity; suspend judgment—right and wrong is not always easily discernable; if what you are doing is not working, try something DIFFERENT; brainstorm and brain write; and explore the “what ifs” in the world.

thank-you-bostonFourth, I think the only community worth investing in is a caring community. 

For example, recently all of us were impacted by the Boston tragedy.  Just yesterday, I read this “thank you” posted on Facebook, which was written by the friend of a Six Seconds’ associate, who is an EMT in Boston.  Here are the first two of probably about 15 items:

Thank you to the visibly exhausted female marathoner, who said, “I am a combat medic, what can I do?”

Thank you to the elderly male, who said, “I am a surgeon, use me.”

He went on to describe the other gifts of phones, food, and friendship.

As a follow-up to first responders, the following story as shared by one of the Synapse teachers.  He had a small group of students in tow; as they rounded a corner, they found one of their classmates on the floor crying.  The students immediately went into denial mode: “I didn’t do it.  It was not I.  Hey, I wasn’t even here.”

The teacher’s comeback was, “Wait a second.  We are the first responders.  What could we say or do here?”  He then asked each child to generate an idea.  The first student said, “I could ask if he is okay?”  The second one said, “I could ask him is there is something I can do to help?”  The next said, “I could ask him if he needs water?”  The last one said, “I could pat him on the back and tell him it will be okay.”

Positive change—everywhere—all the time.

The fifth item to which I want to give my attention is the building of optimists. 

I do not know about any of you, but my first plan (Plan A) has not worked most of the time—perhaps any of the time.  We all know life is frequently not right, not perfect, not fair.  Several years ago, my sister gave me a tote bag emblazoned with, “LIFE IS REALLY ABOUT HOW YOU HANDLE PLAN B.”  I want students to know that adversity is conquered by: analyzing its duration (i.e., it will not last forever); examining its scope (i.e., it is only one aspect/one dimension of your life); and utilizing the power of the brain (i.e., the power of the brain can change the ending).

Finally, the sixth item is the growing of children who will develop self-efficacy. 

I want all children to have the attitude of:  I want to do that, I can learn to do that, and I have become good at doing that.

Because of the environment at Synapse I have seen multiple examples of children doing just that—I am going to mention three out of ninety. 

First, an older student, who arrived without friends and because of a clever, biting wit was not attracting any; seven months later is accepted and admired—and has friends.

A middle level student who arrived very quiet and reserved.  However, with the advent of the Interactive Lab (a museum of science activities created by children) this year volunteered to be at the front door greeting strangers/guests/visitors.

A Level 11 student who started the year hiding behind a cloud of hair, shoulders slumped, and shuffled along—and now she walks straight and tall, with confidence in every step.

Positive changeeverywhereall the time.

George Washington Carver wrote, “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” 

May Synapse’s doors continue to help your child:

            find him/herself

            identify his/her passion

            locate the staircase to his/her dreams

            recognize the value of serving others

Positive change—everywhere—all the time.

I believe the future is full of hope.  I am anticipating and planning on many more Synapse Schools around the world.

Anabel L. Jensen

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