These Educators Reveal The Ways Teaching Kindness Gives Kids A Leg Up In Life

04/26/2017 12:01am ET | Updated February 13, 2018

Two years ago, an eighth-grade boy was asked by a blogger to name the person who had influenced him the most in his life. He said it was his principal, Dr. Nadia Lopez, who wanted all of her students to know that they mattered. The Humans of New York post went viral and, eventually, over a million dollars was raised for the innovative school located in the neighborhood with the highest crime rate in New York City. Lopez went on to write a book, give a TED Talk and gain global recognition for bringing humanity into her classrooms.

Oren J. Sofer has also been devoting his professional life to the connection between students’ minds and hearts ― but in a very different way. Sofer is a mindfulness expert who teaches and develops curricula that brings mindfulness into schools. He believes that the practice of mindfulness can transform the way students learn―and give them a tool to succeed in life―by helping them regulate their emotions and relate better to others.

We partnered with Dignity Health and brought these two innovators together for a candid conversation, over an ongoing series of emails, about the work they’ve done ― and the challenges they’ve faced ― bringing compassion and positivity into the lives of youths and adults alike.

This conversation was not a live-chat constrained by a limited period of time; it’s a real-life, reflective conversation that developed organically over the course of a week or so recently.