It’s back-to-school time and I am so happy to see all the teachers and students back in their classrooms doing what they do best: teaching, learning, and choosing love! September kicked off the start of the school year and thankfully I’ve been able to travel, in person, to visit schools in seven states around the U.S. who are using the Choose Love For Schools program, and to also virtually check in with many more.  It made my heart happy to see all those classrooms bustling with activity.      

It’s another year that our educational system has faced continued uncertainty related to the pandemic. However, schools have courageously forged ahead with in-person learning so students can get back to a daily routine, have more social interaction, maintain a focus on their academics with less distraction, and hopefully allot more time to social and emotional learning and character education.  Our children are showing great resilience as they wear their masks and focus on learning. That said, it’s our educators who are displaying even greater courage, determination, and grace. I have personally witnessed this and it is breathtaking. Educators are our modern day superheroes with the most important job in the entire world of helping to shape and mold our children into the adults they will become. The future of our world is literally in their hands. 

I founded the Choose Love Movement to provide love and support to our educators and their students and the recent stories I’ve heard on my visits of how the Choose Love Formula has given everyone the strength and courage to face this challenge with their best selves is astounding. Courage is not the absence of fear but persistence and resilience in the face of adversity. In fact, I usually find myself crying tears of joy in between presentations because of all the positivity and dedication that I see coming from the educators.  They are so grateful to be back in the classroom with fellow teachers and physically standing in front of their students.  While most of the teachers are maintaining a positive mindset, during my most recent visits I have spoken with some who have voiced some valid concerns. One of the main issues that teachers face is learning loss from last year. The second is COVID and all the ramifications including new CDC guidelines, such as testing and quarantines. The third continues to be safety, and this has expanded to include the consequences of the pandemic.

Our goal is to revitalize and inspire educators, and to give them a framework to meet every student’s social, emotional, and academic needs. In a relevant article in last month’s Berkeley News, “As K-12 students return, schools shouldn’t obsess over pandemic ‘learning loss,’ ” Edward Lempinen writes: “But while some evidence suggests the pandemic has slowed students’ academic progress, Berkeley education scholars caution that educators shouldn’t obsess about it. Better, they said, to focus more on the social and emotional well-being of students — and their teachers — as in-person classes resume after a historic period of uncertainty, fear and loss.”  

I want our educators to know that we are here to support them on their journey in actively engaging students in meaningful, cultural, and linguistically relevant learning experiences. I can see how educators are striving to address academic learning loss and bridging gaps where students are faltering, but adding CDC guidelines and ensuring safety precautions are in place makes it even more challenging. Talking with educators over the past 18 months, I’ve learned how overwhelming it can be to organize an effective social-emotional recovery for their classroom, make sure students keep their masks on and maintain hygienic practices, and follow a daily academic plan. Before any learning can be effective, students and educators need to feel safe, a sense of belonging, cared for, and loved. We need to continually support schools in providing tools and resources to help bring students and educators back to baseline so they are present, calm, and ready to learn and have a successful school year. I applaud all our educators who are really stepping up and amplifying their classroom experiences and not only finding joy being back in-person, but valuing their students’ and their own physical, mental, and emotional wellness that will ultimately improve and enhance classroom climates.

Our educators deserve to be recognized for all that they are doing to help students become their best selves despite the obstacles that make it more challenging. But I know our educators are dedicated, and by always choosing love in the face of uncertainty they are cultivating hope and resilience. I am amazed at the positive difference this courageous, grateful, forgiving, and compassionate choice is making in classrooms and entire schools around the world. Our educators are the changemakers who are creating our future! 


  • Scarlett Lewis

    Chief Movement Officer

    Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement

    Scarlett Lewis founded the nonprofit Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement after her son was murdered during the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy in December 2012. Shortly after his death, Scarlett decided to be part of the solution to the issues that we're seeing in our society -- and that also caused the tragedy -- and turned it into an opportunity to build a culture of love, resilience, and forgiveness into our communities at a time when it is needed the most. Scarlett created Choose Love and became an advocate for social and emotional learning (SEL) and character development that teaches children how to manage their emotions, feel connected, and have healthy, meaningful relationships. Choose Love is a no cost, comprehensive, lifespan, next generation SEL character development program that teaches children and adults how to thoughtfully respond with love in any situation by using the Choose Love Formula (Courage + Gratitude + Forgiveness + Compassion-in-Action), and teaches children how to handle adversity, have courageous conversations, and to respond with love. Choose Love has been downloaded in all 50 states and 100 countries, reaching over 1.9 million children.  Choose Love extends beyond the classroom through additional no cost programs, including Choose Love at Home, Choose Love for Communities, and Champions Choose Love for young athletes. In direct response to COVID-19, Choose Love created numerous free resources to help children and adults deal with the stress and anxiety of this uncertain time.  Also, to help support educators and students as they navigate the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Choose Love created a free social-emotional wellness program, “Choosing Love in Our Brave New World.” This re-entry unit was designed to help transition students back to a new normal of education whether it’s in class or distance learning with particular awareness of the current events and environment, and fosters the development of a growth mindset and perseverance. Lessons incorporate trauma-sensitive, healing-centered language and practices which are based on the latest neuroscience and post-traumatic growth research. Scarlett has traveled extensively throughout the United States to share her inspiring and empowering story and her far-reaching programs. Currently, she is conducting numerous virtual presentations to spread her mission. Scarlett has spoken at multiple national conferences including National Forum on Character; SXSW EDU; ASCD Empower; Music City SEL conference in Nashville; and presented at the TedX Fayetteville. Scarlett and the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement has been featured in the New York Times; BBC; Fox News; CBS News; Today Show; The Guardian; and many regional papers and has been featured in high-profile magazines, including Fortune; Strive; and the Huffington Post. She has a podcast speaking about the character traits that comprise the Choose Love Formula and how the formula can be used in any circumstance to promote self-empowerment; resilience, connection; and optimism. Scarlett is also a frequent contributor to other podcasts. Visit