An NHA school is a place where everyone feels honored and empowered

When you walk into an NHA school, you sense it immediately: something is going right! Teachers encourage one another, children work enthusiastically, and everyone is learning from one another. On the playground, there is less bullying, fighting, or tears. When a situation does occur, it is handled quickly and quietly. Students and teachers notice and applaud one another’s efforts.

Faculty, staff, and administration work as an interdependent team focused on student success. The goal of an NHA school is simple: to create greatness in the school environment, in academic results, and in childrens’ lives.

An NHA school nurtures greatness in the heart of each child

Every child craves attention and energy from the adults around him. In a typical school, it is all too easy for children to receive attention for negative behavior. A child working quietly in his seat may not capture the teacher’s attention, but a misbehaving child certainly will. Although well-intentioned, a traditional approach to classroom management actually rewards the misbehaving child with an extra dose of the teacher’s energy. If the misbehaving child is given a discipline referral, the energy dose directed toward that negative behavior increases. In effect, traditional disciplinary models actually condition some students to act out for more attention by accidentally energizing their experience of failure.

The ideal NHA schools, and teachers, will try anything new because they believe the child is worth it and hope they can make a difference. They take the defiant child’s needs as a mission, and see past the behaviors to the heart of the child. They are willing to invest money into their development because they see it as a value investment. However, they struggle with discouragement and helpless feelings because they see there is potential in the child but feel they don’t have the right tools for the job. They are looking for relief from the stress and helpless feelings related to children who have the following acting out behaviors at school:
-defiance, disrespect, aggression (verbal and physical), bullying, apathy about school work, not working up to potential, distracted, impulsive, poor self esteem, poor test scores.

The NHA is the ideal program for

  • Teachers who are looking to increase learning time by decreasing behavioral problems in the classroom.
  • Principals wanting to spend more time on curriculum development and staff development rather than discipline referrals.
  • Social Workers, Counselors, and Psychologists looking for ways to meet the emotional/social needs of the students

An NHA school has a profound influence on each child’s future

The NHA turns the traditional approach around combining strict rules with positive encouragement. Teachers respond to children’s positive efforts with an extra dose of their energy, and quickly “reset” children when rules are broken. Children are trained to honor and encourage one another as well. Even discipline referrals become an opportunity to focus on what the child is doing right. The child’s experience of success is energized, and his experience of failure is de-energized. As a result, children become more self-motivated, better behaved, and school outcomes improve naturally. The child’s sense of self-efficacy, combined with strong relationships among the adults in his or her life, help build “inner wealth,” setting him or her on a positive track of achievement. When combined with school-sponsored NHA parent training, home and school function in synergy to energize children for success.

An NHA school enjoys

  • A decrease in discipline referrals
  • Increased time to teach and develop curriculum
  • A decrease in bullying
  • Increase in teacher job satisfaction
  • Teaches social and emotional learning standards every day
  • Supports school improvement plans (SIP)

Schools are an extension of our larger society and are a child’s first opportunity to learn about social rules. For this reason, schools are the perfect place to implement the Nurtured Heart Approach™. Dan Peterson’s Compass 4 Life Program is designed to implement the NHA in school and at home through teacher training that benefits child, parent, teacher and community.

Illinois school district consultant Tom Grove reports that all teachers using NHA in his district are at or above curriculum schedules and no teacher has stopped using this approach once they have started.

The NHA delivers results in Illinois

Barkstall Elementary in Champaign, Illinois has one of the highest attendance rates in the school district and has improved each year since the inception of NHA. In the past three years, their attendance rate has climbed from 95.1% to 95.9%, discipline referrals are down 88%, and the percentage of students who have met or are exceeding their ISAT test scores have raised from 74.5% to 87% in Reading and from 88.7% to 95% in Math. (1)

Jefferson Middle School in Champaign, Illinois has seen an overall 17% decrease in discipline referrals this year and a 20% decrease for their African American students. In the past three years, they have only had two core teaching positions open. (2)

Naperville District 203 began implementing the NHA as a pilot program in 2010. The program was so successful that it has been implemented district-wide. Parent Events focus on helping parents continue the positive effects of the NHA at home.

These and many other success stories nationwide speak to the efficacy of the Nurtured Heart Approach™.

The heartbeat of the community is what destroys or enhances school programs. So, I really want to educate people on this truth and give them a social curriculum that is focused on climate and culture (NHA) rather than compete with other social curriculums that focus on technique and not the heart of the child.” — Dan Peterson, founder of The Compass 4 Life

The NHA captures the truth spirit of school leadership

An NHA school is a great place to work! The approach benefits all working relationships among staff, faculty, and administration. The NHA is not just meant for children – it benefits the adults in the building as well. Most schools find it helpful to contract Dan’s consulting and training services to maximize the implementation of the Nurtured Heart Approach™ in their school.

Since Dan is an independent contractor and an Advanced Trainer for the NHA, he is able to commit quality time to develop staff, set up training teams and oversee the over all implementation of the NHA. Dan’s Compass Program provides direct personal training and coaching, observation, video taping with feedback, and other experiential exercises that enhance learning, such as:

  • In Service Trainings Customized school training geared to help schools learn and implement the NHA
  • Consulting Partnership with schools that provide progressive phases of training and coaching to effectively implement and sustain the NHA
  • Educator Coaching and Training Observations, videotaping, living coaching, peer training, designed to help educators successfully incorporate NHA philosophy and techniques in their classroom.

When students and teachers are constantly honored and encouraged, children’s behavior problem decrease and schools become everyone’s favorite place to be. Discover how to maximize the implementation of the Nurtured Heart Approach™ at your school, and provide your students with the social skills training that their parents can continue at home.


(1) Data on Barkstall Elementary School was provided by Trudy Walters, principal

(2) Data on Jefferson Middle School was provided by Dr. Susan Zola, principal