22-year veteran Wolbe unlocks hidden keys to success in new book
By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
powered teacher with great history in the community is sharing her not-so-secret tips through her recently published book, The Empowered Teacher: Proven Tips for Classroom Success.
Dr. Susie Wolbe, a 22-year veteran of public and private schools, retired from her principal post, but is not ever likely to stop educating others.
In a span of four years, Wolbe lost both of her parents and had two children get married. The circle of life was spinning.
“Lifecycle moments can bring you to your knees and have you wondering what you are going to do next,” she said. The notes she had kept were “calling to her,” and with the support of her friends and family members pushed her to publish The Empowered Teacher.
“It’s not a psychology or theory book, but a ‘to-do’ for the classroom,” Wolbe said.
The book addresses relationships and communication, management and planning, classroom involvement and beyond, support and partnerships, professional successes, personal growth and well-being.
“Once I stepped away from the day-to-day roles I’d had for so many years, I was able to look more objectively, and what seemed like common sense isn’t necessarily so ‘common’ in the classroom,” she said. “When you’re in the moment, and working with your students, you are pedaling as fast as you can to keep up.”
Wolbe taught many grade levels before serving as a principal for kindergarten through eighth grade for 14 years at Levine Academy. She also taught at Carrollton Elementary School and the Hockaday School.
“The book is a short-and-sweet ‘how-to’ that fits in a purse, can be tossed in a desk and looked at on-the-go. It works.”
Wolbe, who provides single- and multiple-session programs, works one-on-one, in groups large and small, and leads seminars in person, via teleconferencing, Facetime and Skype. She provides the ingredients and the recipes for success, but guides her clients to find their own way.
“I don’t want them to rely on me — but to learn from me,” she said.
For Patti Brooks, recently retired after 33 years at Lakehill Preparatory School, as teacher and head of the Lower School, bringing Wolbe in for a six-week series on mindfulness was a great success.
“You could see those participating really getting into the program, and you could identify the ‘mindful’ and ‘listening’ positions and literally watch them move through the practices,” said Brooks. “Dr. Wolbe is such a real person and I never felt like she was selling anything — but that her heart was in it entirely and that everything she shared came from her years of experience.”
Wolbe’s program at Lakehill, working with students, faculty and parents, focused on bullying and conflict resolution. Those tools helped Shannon Santos’ 11-year-old daughter succeed in school.
“The calming tools she provided will last us way beyond the classroom as parents are able to support their children at home,” said Santos, whose daughter Harper plays tennis 15 hours a week.
“Our daughter is very competitive and this wasn’t just a ‘teach her’ or a ‘tutoring’ session, but something we will all use. We need the recommendations as much as she does.”
Santos, Harper’s father and stepmother met with Wolbe.
“It was very relaxed and we regularly use the meditation methods she taught us.”
Pointing to direction with methods of breathing and meditation to assist with sleep, calmness, focus and more, Santos said that Wolbe’s advice has helped the whole family to keep calmer during the everyday frustrations with life.
“This allowed Harper to learn to be more focused, calm and mentally mature on the court. Athletes aren’t allowed any verbal contact during a match so she has to keep herself calm, during mistakes for example, and able to bring herself back to positive,” said Santos. “Dr. Wolbe worked on the concept that if someone is being mean or rude to you, it’s often them having a bad day — that it’s important to stay calm and let the other party work it out. ‘Never talk negatively to yourself’ was also an important point.”
That positivity is carried over from when Wolbe regularly told her students and others to have their “best day ever.” She realized that it wasn’t often enough that people were positive. She had wristbands made, she trademarked the phrase, and she began giving away the bands, in the carpool line and in the hallways, as a way of saying “Hey, I noticed you and you matter.”
“I had a student who’d had a rough day. We worked out the issue and I handed her a bracelet. That was that — I thought,” said Wolbe. “She went home and, seeing her dad had had a tough day, passed it to him. The next day, he parlayed the bracelet to her sister. It’s so easy to make someone feel noticed.”
Wolbe keeps a bag of the bracelets available on her website and in her car, and gives them out regularly.
“You can make someone happy anywhere,” she said. “It’s mindfulness — thinking and being aware of others in a way we often miss out.”
Another resource Wolbe makes available is her Protect, Project, Empower journal. With more than 175 quotes to move and strengthen the writer, Wolbe extends the success she’s had in journaling. “When you write something out, not on a computer, not typing, not for public ‘sharing,’ but when you take the time to just write your thoughts, it’s another form of exhaling,” she said. “It’s amazing what happens when you just sit and write. Sometimes it’s something to come back and reflect on and sometimes it’s just ‘that moment’ and you need to find a way to just ‘be.’ ”
Wolbe, formerly the “Roses” behind the children’s clothing manufacturing team of “Roses and Pearls,” is also a licensed real estate broker. She and her husband Ellis belong to Congregation Anshai Torah.
They have five children and seven grandchildren — five between the ages of 2 and 4. She enjoys reading, learning “anything,” volunteering through the National Council of Jewish Women, attending conferences and spending time with her family.
Wolbe’s advice and tools are well suited for the classroom, home life, sports and the workplace. In her blog, Wolbe advises that “if you’re disappointed today, or any day, remember, every single person can make a difference. You make a difference by what you say, what you do, how you act, and if you treat others with kindness and respect when you are working toward making this world, our world, the way you want it to be.”
For more information or to contact Dr. Wolbe, visit drsusiewolbe.com or call 972-345-0744.