Aristotle, a world-renowned philosopher and scientist once said that, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

Over time and in our history, school and education and “America’s future,” “our children’s future,” is the conversation from government to pre-schools, officials to toddlers.

We all know that education is a hot topic and it is big, it’s an important topic, it’s fundamental, it’s universal, it’s philosophical, it’s controversial and for sure it is on going and one that never ends. This blog today is all about just that, education, education at a very special school called Crossroads.

Crossroads School is an extraordinary non-profit private school in Santa Monica, California. It is awesome. It is exceptional. It sits on top of the heap in the educational realm and academically across the board in both public and private school systems. It’s a school that includes everything from books, blackboards, computers, pens, pencils, and papers to minds, hearts, and souls. It’s a school that maintains a comprehensive education format that is steeped in rich intelligence and at the same time is progressive, courageous, committed and devoted to the highest vibration of education, the whole child.

It’s a place where princes and paupers both walk together and are still just the same.

Crossroads School is traditional, classic, and regal, it’s edgy, out of the box, risk taking, and absolutely at the forefront of a trend which is their premier program called life skills. Life skills is a program that teaches emotional intelligence where words are spoken, voices are heard and stories are shared, where hearts, minds and souls are included with intellectual intelligence.

Their life skills program has earned them acclaims, accolades and admirations. It is viewed by many as brilliant and clearly has made Crossroads a mastermind of a newfound phenomenon, or the boy wonder of education, or a prodigy among other schools. It is by far the greatest gift that Crossroads has imparted to the educational world and it’s why Crossroads has made such a difference.

Every year in their life skills program, in the days of February, March and April, Angels at Risk is invited to prevent harms way by teaching kids, and in turn families, how to keep themselves safe from the intrusion and infringement of drug and alcohol use in the simplest and kindest of ways. Our Angels at Risk speakers and counselors tell their optimistic cautionary tales with confidence that kids and teenagers and everybody listening will stay close to their deepest wishes and dreams. All their tales are told in a child friendly way with a beginning, middle and an end and each story highlights our simple prevention points and includes families, friends, schools, feelings and facts. Then they continue our Angels at Risk philosophy focusing primarily on always reaching out, believing, communicating, and connecting. And for parents, to protect, don’t give up and be brave enough to love big which isn’t always easy, but it works. Most of all for everybody to never be alone.

It is a mission that we all hold together, the school and our program, because it’s honorable with heart and is on point with the future. The ripple effect is profound.

Maybe best said by a 19 year old boy who wants to volunteer in our programs by telling his story and is aspiring to be of service, “If I help one kid then I consider that a victory. Just one. Well that’s a victory to me.” And what we know further at Angels at Risk is that the listeners always hold deep appreciation for the speaker’s truths, and they say so. They write surveys of words and art that express a trillion other comments and compliments that are each weighted in gold.

We never know, one hundred percent, who we are going to help, how we are going to help them or even when the help we try to teach them is going to show up in their lives for prevention, like love, is tricky to measure. What we do know is it’s always positive for all those who participate. It’s life’s win-win for the storyteller and the story listener.

It’s having one faith, it’s following our hearts, intuitions, our desperations to help another. Believing that we find our ways together, and not alone, but with each other.

Honestly, by welcoming prevention in a wholesome, happy way the paradigm of this issue for Crossroads School, contrary to other schools, has shifted, it has changed. There is a new voice, a healthy voice, a wise voice about drug and alcohol use and abuse for kids and their families together. It’s a new beginning, it’s a new life and they have a community that is not separated or afraid.

All of this has given them a special spark of life.

In 2008, an article titled, “Discussing the Truth,” written by a Crossroads School student that quoted Tom Nolan, dean of students and Angels at Risk board member, directly says, “From my perspective, all youth in America are at risk for substance abuse…the goal of Angels at Risk, is to create a collaborative approach to keeping kids safe families, schools, and community working together to optimize our children’s futures.”

The spark of life or the stroke of genius is this commitment to human justice, and the idea that people are a combination of a lot of parts. That education needs to include kids from all platforms and remember that every part works together like pieces of a puzzle to paint a picture and tell the story completely. It’s exactly what Aristotle talked about, where educating the mind and educating the heart come together.

The past idea about education that has been iron clad intellectual has been quietly and radically pierced by Crossroad’s courage to marry life skills and emotional intelligence to just that, the intellect.

Bill Gates, a true philanthropic genius and hero often implies that the educational system might be the most difficult system to navigate help and shift, and that the lockdown of this system is nothing close to human justice.

Further cited from the Huffington Post article on January 3, 2013 titled, “Bill Gates: Education is the one Issue that’s Key to America’s Future,” Bill Gates spoke about “singled out education as the issue that could most determine America’s future.” He also said about education that, “It’s our tool of equality.” He also believes that “education is the greatest predictor of America’s future.”

So maybe the locator, the anchor, the lighthouse, the beacon of hope and finally the spark of life for America’s future as far as the “education factor” goes for all schools and foundations, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who might be at a crossroads, would be to check out Crossroads School, check out Angels at Risk and remember to include the whole child, the total person all of it together, intellectually, emotionally, and maybe even in soul.

The obvious closer, and the big shout out of this blog are to Crossroads School, headmaster Bob Riddle and Jamie. But most of all to Tom Nolan, the Dean, whose soul is grand and heart is magnificent and mind is that of a whiz kid. His convictions for justice for all humanity is unprecedented and evidenced by the impact and affect he has on the hearts and the lives of students, families and communities all around that he has preserved and saved. He is nothing short of a word to be admired.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By: Susie Spain, Founder