June 1, 2015

My nephew graduated from pre-school this past week. Video from his father came via my cell phone. He was great at the choreography that connected to the song in his class’s final performance. His teacher tells my brother that she looks to Joe when she forgets where she is in the song and he is right on it. He’s on his way to kindergarten.

At the time of writing this blog, Exit Interviews were held at J.L. Stanford Middle School. Interviews where 8th graders discuss their growth with strangers, adults who work outside the school. The county office sup was there, a few police officers in their uniforms (one who I taught in 11th grade!) and some retirees. The students were delightful. Some shy and awkward with little eye contact; others assured and funny with great enthusiasm and facial expressions. All trying to share their best work. It was a treat. They are on their way to high school.

I was recently at Peel DSB in Toronto where the secondary teachers were on strike. As of May 27th, they returned back to work. The strike almost meant no graduation would have been held by the school board. Perhaps families would have organized or the community would have gathered together to celebrate the transition. Most likely that would have happened, but now they don’t need to organize. These seniors are on their way into the world, and had the strike not ended, there might not have been a school ritual to commemorate the moment.

I know folks who don’t want to do an official ‘transition.’ My friend thanked his daughter for not walking at her college graduation at a major state university and another friend who is moving after 22 years (in her eighties!) doesn’t want a big party. Makes sense.

Yet transitions matter. Chapters in lives end and new ones begin and we should acknowledge them in ways that work for us. At the end of our relationship, my long time beau sent me flowers – just as he had done at the beginning of our relationship – to celebrate the circle of ‘us.’ Class act.

Life is about endings and beginnings. Acknowledge what’s past. Toast to the new. Sniff. Tear up. And celebrate. Here’s to adventure. Step into the mystery of Next.

If you have any questions, comments or topic suggestions, please feel free to call me, 650-868-1916 and we can Face Time, Skype me at jenniferabrams, or email me at and we can set up a time to talk voice to voice. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cool Resources

I have been guest writing a series of blogs on Women and Leadership for Peter DeWitt’s Common Ground blog. First was “Gender Bias and the Confidence Gap“, 2nd was “Show Some Love“, and the 3rd is “Does Gender Matter?“. I am finding my voice around this topic. Write me if you have ideas of what could come next…

VIA Institute on Character has a great survey of character strengths that I think everyone should take – and more specifically, students readying to apply to colleges and eager to find ways to speak about their assets. “As a non-profit, positive psychology organization and the home of the world’s largest database on character and character strengths, our mission is to unleash the strengths within all of us to build a better world.  We are proud to offer the only free, online, scientifically validated survey of character strengths.”


Here are two books for summer reading.


About Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams

Jennifer Abrams considers herself a "voice coach," helping others learn how to best use their voices – be it collaborating on a team, presenting in front of an audience, coaching a colleague and supervising an employee. Jennifer holds a Master's degree in Education from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in English from Tufts University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Jennifer's publications include Having Hard Conversations, The Multigenerational Workplace: Communicating, Collaborating & Creating Community and Hard Conversations Unpacked – the Whos, the Whens and the What Ifs. She has also created a Corwin Press e-course by the same name.

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“Jennifer has so squarely hit the mark with our teacher-leaders that she is one of the few presenters that they are always requesting when professional development is the question. Here at the University of Chicago, this acclaim and recognition does not come easily! Jennifer has a way of presenting information that gets quickly to the heart of the matter. Her ability to read the true needs of the group, regardless of the original focus, has made her a favorite among the faculty here at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.”

Jason Lopez, Associate Director, Educational Programs
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago, IL