A lot of schools talk about “whole-child” education” and creating a positive school culture, but at GFW Middle School and High School, we really take the need to give our students experiences that give them confidence, wisdom, and support who they are. On Monday, March 25, students in grades 7-12 were able to attend a program by motivational speaker and Minnesota native, Cory Greenwood. 

Cory is a renowned speaker who shared his Your Story Matters presentation with students where he focused on recognizing and appreciating one’s self worth and finding people to act as harnesses to support and guide you in your life. We were thrilled to be able to offer this program at our school after speaking with other schools who said great things.  Thanks to generous support from the Thunderbird Foundation with contributions from the old St. Gregory's Church in Lafayette specifically earmarked for mental health initiatives, our Continuous Improvement Team (part of our Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) was able to approve and plan for the event. 

The program began with two songs by a live band with singer and former American Idol Contestant Hannah Nicolaisen. Students were immediately energized and it was amazing to see the energy in the room! Cory then spoke to students about his life and the importance of creating connections, knowing your self worth, and assuring students that no matter who they are, their story matters. 

“I came here to tell you that every single one of you has value, every single one of you has a story and something inside of you that somebody in this school needs,” Cory told students. “Who do you surround yourself with when the ride of life has you hanging upside down with nothing to hang on to will  keep you from falling all the way off the ride?”

The program was an amazing experience for our students and we are grateful to be able to provide this type of event at GFW because it is a message that our students deserve to hear. Students and staff alike shared that the presentation was exactly what they needed to motivate them. 


“What excited me about this event was the positive environment and energy he brought when he was performing,” said a tenth grade student. “ He talked about his own experiences and how it’s okay to be vulnerable and speak up. He said everyone hides themselves in a mask and I believe that’s true. As he was speaking he made me realize talking about your emotional health and mental well being is okay and something you shouldn’t be scared of doing.”

“The message I took away is that it is important to find a person to talk to if you are struggling and you should be who you truly are,” added an eleventh grade student. 

“Cory had many typical teenage struggles like our students do,” said English Teacher Sue O’Neill. “He was a passionate speaker who used a positive way to tackle self-worth and real examples to back up his points. Using the ‘who or what is your harness’ in life is a relatable, recognizable recall device for students to anchor in his message. How lucky we were at GFW to be able to present this to our students?”

CoryGrowing Future World Class Leaders is our vision and we are doing everything we can to create a supportive and safe environment for students to explore, to make mistakes and try again, and to find their path.