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Barbara Gruener

Counselor and Character Coach

Barbara Gruener is a nationally recognized speaker, character coach, and author who thrives on positively influencing character change, passionately helping people create lifelong connections, and intentionally improving school culture and climate. Her innovative ideas and engaging insights are sparked by 34 years in public education, growing alongside students from every age and stage. Barbara has been leading supercharged character-development and social and emotional learning sessions with students, parents, teachers and administrators for nearly two decades. She recently retired from Friendswood ISD in TX and is currently working as an inspirational speaker, blogger, life coach, mentor, and host of the podcast Character Speaks. She is also recognized as a Character Strong teammate. Barbara is the author of the Mom’s Choice Gold honoree, What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind, and a joyful wife and mama of three beautiful children.


's Sessions

Imagine a school culture so warm and welcoming that your superheroes are soaring to success emotionally and socially. Cape up and fly on in for engaging ideas and practical strategies to help unleash the passion and power within. Get ready to supercharge in this high-energy workshop!

Have you ever visited a school where empathy is elevated, compassion is mobilized, and kindness has become so routine that the warmth of its glow is felt from the very moment you open the doors? If so, then you likely remember wanting to pull up a chair and stay there all day. Something so magical doesn’t just happen by chance. In this session Barbara will provide concrete strategies to weave kindness into the very fabric of your character building to help our future leaders intentionally understand kindness, embrace it, and give it wings to soar.

Are you looking for innovative ways to integrate core values into the culture and climate of your schools as you dynamically shape hearts and minds for the future? Get ready to be moved as you dance on it to this interactive workshop designed to look at how to engage all learners and help them crescendo to new heights. This session promises to entertain and be instrumental in your character education efforts.

If you’re looking for a growth session that will fortify what’s already on your plate with engagement and empowerment strategies that you can use in your character building as soon as you get back, then this interactive, high-energy workshop is for you. Prepare to be positively inspired and intentionally moved by the wisdom, enthusiasm, and joy that veteran school counselor Barbara Gruener brings to a room. Soar on in to stretch and grow with this passionate life coach, mentor, and author in the areas of mindset, emotional regulation, character development, mindfulness and self-care. Cape up and unleash the power within with us. (Elementary and secondary versions available.)

Empathy is a trait for which we are hard-wired, but how do we help students in a selfie-absorbed society intentionally switch places with someone else and walk for a spell in their shoes? In this workshop, we’ll take an in-depth look at the three types of empathy as spelled out by Daniel Goleman ~ cognitive, emotional and empathic concern ~ and discover strategies and technique through which we can elevate this glorious virtue in our empaths.

What does it mean to have a growth mindset? Have you ever heard your students or children say things like, “I hate making mistakes” or I can’t do something this hard”? How about “I can’t understand this” or “I give up”? How could practicing a growth mindset help combat those errant thoughts while it builds resilience and grit? Join us as we take a look at the ground-breaking research of Dr. Carol Dweck and discover why and how we could all benefit from unlocking our fixed-mindset beliefs.

In life, just like on an airplane, we must put on our own oxygen masks first, before assisting others. And while that might seem counterintuitive to caregivers, it boils down to this: We can’t give what we don’t have. Without our own oxygen flow, how can we help others? Unwind and restore in this well-BEing workshop as you learn to show caring to yourself by BEing: Childlike, Adaptable, Relaxed, In the moment, Nourished, and Grateful. Take away innovative ideas and ‘scent-sational’ strategies that you can use right now to amp up your self-care rituals and routines; prepare to feel the difference it will make as you continue to care for others.

Who doesn’t love a good picture book? Barbara traces her passion for picture books back to her high school days when she won first place in the National Forensic League State Storytelling competition. Like other passionate educators who stay on the lookout for that perfect pick, Barbara uses read-alouds to engage her students, enrich her lessons, elevate empathy in her learners, and empower them through their conflicts and challenges. In this workshop, Barbara shares not only her favorite titles and what core values and social skills they can nurture, stretch and grow, but also how to create those velcro moments that will make the story stick and bring its readers back as they face real-life issues, experience similar feelings through their daily habits and routines, and learn to navigate healthy connections and relationships.