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Flinthills USD 492

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Joe Coles Visits Flinthills Schools

Be kind to one another. Show empathy for fellow human beings. Strive to become a better person.


Maybe write an uplifting note to a student or teacher needing encouragement. Or perhaps smile and introduce yourself to a student sitting alone.


Those were the kinds of inspirational messages motivational speaker Joe Coles delivered to the students, staff and faculty of USD 492 in three presentations Aug. 30 at the Flint Hills High School Auditorium.


Coles -- who spent 40 years as a teacher, coach, counselor and athletic director -- challenged audience members to develop habits of kindness and to respect each other.  Coles is also the Co-Founder of the Uncommon Athlete Organization and has worked with Rachel's Challenge.  


"The number one thing I can do in this world is respect others," Coles told an audience of middle school students. "If I don't have respect it's time to get out."


Coles talked about the devastating effects of sexual harassment and "sexting" and how inappropriate images can haunt students years later.


He implored students to stand up for classmates who are bullied and not to be disinterested bystanders.


"You know what happened today?" Coles asked students. "160,000 kids skipped school because they were being bullied. When someone does something to somebody, you gotta stand up for them. Empathy is the number one deterrent of bullying behavior. If we're gonna stop bullying we have to understand empathy."


Coles speaks before schools and businesses and conducts leadership training throughout the United States. He lives in the Southwest Kansas community of Cimarron.