For this week’s dose of Inspiration, I had the opportunity to chat with Cindy Couchman, Superintendent at Buhler, USD 313. We discuss the importance of filling others’ buckets with kindness (Random Acts of Kindness) and her lifelong mission to improve others’ lives.
These 25 Bucket Filler Activities Will Spread Kindness in Your Classroom
hello everyone. And welcome to another episode of the quest for new inspiration. My name is Katie Maschler and this week I am so grateful to have gotten to sit down with one of my favorite high school teachers, Cindy Couchman. Not only was she one of my high school teachers and a tutor, but she is now actually the superintendent of Buhler School District.
She has won numerous awards and I would seriously spend so much time trying to list them off. Her accomplishments are numerous.
I am so excited to share this episode with you guys. She has been one of my biggest inspirations since high school. And i can’t wait for her to inspire you as much as she’s inspired me
Cindy Couchman: All right. So Cindy Couchman, I have been in education since I graduated from college. So I started off as a teacher, a math high school math teacher, and [00:01:00] I have taught, I taught for 25 years in the classroom. And in the last six years I’ve been at the central office and the last two. had the ability to serve as the superintendent at Buhler Schools and KT, was one of my students.
So it’s so exciting to be here. I think that my mission, like when you think of your, your life, I guess vision or your mission for your life, what gives you purpose? mine has always been service to others and that to make that’s about the shortest way to say it is service to others. And it’s about making other people’s lives better.
KT Maschler: Is there something that kind of like, sort of inspired that path?
Cindy Couchman: I think, you know, at a young age, my parents, when I was growing up, they always served others, um, in weird little ways. So like, I think I’ve had different inspirations at different phases of my life. And when I was younger, I would watch my parents stop and help people along the road, or, give rides to a family to [00:02:00] church on Saturdays or on Sundays.
Invite people that didn’t have someplace to go for Christmas over to our home. And so like that little, those little things kind of set me like on that path. Um, when I was younger and then as I got older, I found myself really attracted to people who, always felt that way about others. And I think that different inspirations at different times, I’ve had educational inspirations in my profession.
Um, I’ve had then also like personal friends. That has inspired me. I think that I’m always looking for people that are smarter than me and, um, they always kind of push me to be better and to work harder. And it’s all, I’ve noticed the theme between all the people that I spend a lot of time with.
They’re always making other people’s lives better. And that’s my general theme I’ve noticed, like what, who am I close friends are the people I spend a lot of time listening to, um, the people that I, that the books that I read. And that’s generally what it’s. That’s
KT Maschler: awesome. So [00:03:00] not only were you one of my high school teachers, but you tutored me for a little bit, what gives you kind of like that motivation for.
not only for yourself, but to inspire your students that may be like struggling with like a subject or just in general having a bad day. Cause you were generally one of my favorite teachers to go to high school and just like see on a day-to-day basis. And even after you were at my actual teacher like just in the hallway, you were so fun.
Be around and just your presence. How did you keep that motivation? Going day to day?
Cindy Couchman: Yeah. You know, I’ve always had a lot of, high energy, you know which I, you know, I don’t know where that actually comes from. Maybe I’m a little ADHD, I don’t know. But, um, I think. You know, when you talk about what, what motivates me?
I think everybody needs to find their motivation and recognize what it is, because I think that’s important for me. you know, when you, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the love languages, the five different love languages and all of that. you know, words of affirmation have [00:04:00] always been one. Love languages, meaning, I just need people to say, Hey, you did a good job.
I appreciate you keep, uh, keep up the good work. And it really motivates me to, to work harder. And so just having you say those words to me, Katie, that, Hey, you know, I really enjoy, like, it gives me great motivation to continue on in my mission. And so it’s just those little tiny things. It doesn’t have to be great.
It doesn’t have to be big, but just those little tiny things like that, um, Kind of a highly motivated to do it, um, and keep being positive. I think that, you know, in education, one of the biggest roles that goes underserved is really the role of a teacher to be a cheerleader. And, to cheer people on to say, I believe in you, I know you can do it because I think I need that.
And so, um, when I. If I need it, I try to provide it to other people. And I know that not everybody’s love languages, the same. Some of them are words of deeds or deeds in that set of words, but, that’s mine and that, I seek that out more often and I noted that it, that it’s about [00:05:00] me. So I at least can recognize what I need to keep being inspired and motivated.
And so when I feel myself going down, I can kind of seek that out through my friends or acquaintances, and you know, interactions like this.
Okay. So I’m going to throw kind of a curve ball at you. This wasn’t any questions? What, so my favorite, like I actually still have momentos, like in a box. I pulled them out for this episode.
What inspired the failure bucket momentum slash mission. Cause I still have at least. Six or seven of them from like my classmates. [00:06:00] That was just like little, just cheery messages that just like made my day or one from Corey Walker that I had no idea.
He thought that those things, yes, he was my friend, but like, just like seeing those words, like written down was just, it meant so much to me. So what kind of inspires.
Cindy Couchman: You know, it started with, um, random acts of kindness I had, way back when you know, those words. Cause those were kind of big. It was when it first kind of came out.
This is, I mean, that’s kind of a big deal right now. but years ago, um, is random acts of kindness. And I tried to figure out like how we could start that in a high school level. And how can we make kindness? Really something that people, display and without recognition. And so, you know, I wanted it to be something from the heart that that you would do something kind for someone without really expecting anything in return.
So sometimes people do service acts, but they’re, they kind of do it for selfish reasons. [00:07:00] And, one of the easiest ways to do it and going back to my words of affirmation, right. That’s my love language is saying, okay, well, how can we make. So students can feel the amount of kindness, um, that I know other kids felt for each other.
And I would see it occasionally. And I would hear about it in class. Like somebody would say, oh, I love her. She’s so nice. And I was like, oh, it would be so nice. They, that student could hear you say those words. And so that is how it started. I was like, okay, well, we’re going to do, um, a failure bucket type of deal.
And so it started off as anonymous. And I said, you don’t have to sign your name, but you can, if you want to. And, um, then we delivered those to, to the students like yourself of just saying, Hey, I see you. And it’s really just about that. It’s about being seen and being seen for who you are and appreciated for who you are.
And I think that that’s. Gives kids and adults, like there were no different, a lot of positive energy and that kindness just gets paid [00:08:00] forward. And that’s really where it came from. And then it just kept going. And I was, you know, it’s about spreading kindness at the very core.
KT Maschler: Do you have other particular people, like you mentioned before, this Bernay brown that inspires you on a day-to-day basis?
Cindy Couchman: I do, you know, there’s so many podcasts out there. You almost think you hate even naming them because, even your podcast right here. Right. And giving inspiration to people. Um, I love Bernay brown and, um, I love Craig Rochelle.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Craig Rochelle. Podcasts. It’s a really good one. it’s a little bit more faith-based than some, but it’s a very good, very good podcast. I read a lot of books, Daniel pink self-improvement books, to try to help understand the human condition. Um, and those things give me inspiration like that.
That’s where I learned from. I try to absorb some of that. I’ve always said. If not for the books you read and the people that you meet, you’ll be the same person you are today as you are tomorrow. [00:09:00] And that experiences and books and listening and learning is one of my key, values in life. And so those people are, um, those are just kind of a few of them that I, I listened to and try to try to make me, you know, self-help I know that that’s kind of a weird thing to say, but it is a lot about it.
KT Maschler: I asked for four sessions with like a just like self-help like improvement coach, just like 30 minutes that I could just talk to somebody. And she was like an executive coach. And so she knew. she had been through experiences throughout the corporate world and , just different mantras and just had it advice.
Just how to maneuver and a professional manner. And I loved it so
Cindy Couchman: much. It was amazing. Yeah. I have a professional coach. I think that, if you know, it there’s a borderline, isn’t it between professional coach and therapist there.
Like if there’s a lot of overlap, but, I do have a, have a coach. I think everybody. Needs a coach, whether it’s formal or informal, but it’s definitely [00:10:00] helpful if it’s more formal, because then they don’t have, they don’t have a dog in the fight, so to speak and they can help you. And be honest with you without this weird repercussions of like just a friend, trying to be honest with you.
And if you don’t have a professional coach or a personal coach or a therapist, it’s always good to get one. I highly, highly encourage.
KT Maschler: Okay. Well, I don’t want to take up too much of your time. So last piece of advice you have for 25 year old self or just anyone in general?
Cindy Couchman: I think if I had like my, if I was like 25 and I was looked at like that, like back on my life and like, what would my advice be to other people? I think it’s just be kind, and I know that that seems like two words. It is. It’s really maybe outdated, but it really is the truth. And I always say that, um, you know, there’s a signature, I have it on, on my email.
Every time I email there’s a quote and it says about, you know, You never know the battles that anyone’s going through. And so at the very [00:11:00] least be kind. And I think that, um, I think that says a lot, like, you know, if you don’t, you know, you don’t know the unseen battles people are facing and, just be kind.
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