The Honor Roll

In these exciting times of astonishing access to technology and information, the traditional model of education has changed. The days of lecturing and rote memorization are over. Today’s schools are dynamic, filled with experimentation and active learning. Throughout the region, educators are dreaming up innovative methods to reach students. Teachers are bringing their lessons to life with virtual reality, hands-on experiences, and tailor-made curriculum, opening the minds of their students and getting real results.

Regional economic development organization Southwest Michigan First founded the Catalyst Education Awards with the mission of making Southwest Michigan recognized globally for its success in preparing young people to thrive in education and employment. According to Ron Kitchens, the organization’s chief executive officer, “Everyone can point to a single life-changing moment in their past that set them on their current path. And for many, this occurred in a classroom. We would like to celebrate the fact that across the region, these moments happen in our schools every day.”

The 2017 Catalyst Education Awards, sponsored by the Michigan Lottery, recognize educational excellence by honoring one elite school, principal, and teacher for their diligent and creative work to elevate student achievement. By implementing best practices in their classrooms and schools, they pave the way for the next generation of thinkers, engineers, artists, and leaders. Take out your number two pencils and read on to take note of the extraordinary successes of our region’s exemplary educators.

The Beauty of Diversity in the Workplace

Workplace diversity no longer merely denotes the color of one’s skin in the workplace, but rather implies the range of differences belonging to the people of an organization. Differences in race, gender, ethnicity, age, education, place of birth, tenure, position within the organization, religion, family background, sexual orientation, cognitive style, and more affect how individuals perceive themselves and others. When individuals come together on a team, these perceptions influence interactions and propose a challenge to organizational communications, performance, and ability to adapt to change.

While one might assume that a homogeneous team would consistently outperform one filled with diversity, it is quite the opposite. In fact, McKinsey & Company found in their 2015 Diversity Matters project that “companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15 percent more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median, and the companies in the top quartile for racial (and) ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely.”

Rev Up Your Team’s Engine

For many, the thought of team building exercises conjures youthful images of camp counselors leading campers down to the lake or human resources managers struggling to stir up excitement with clichéd activities like the trust fall, Two Truths and a Lie, or game of capture the flag.

More sophisticated options have cropped up, even going as far as “extreme team building” in the form of simulated plane crashes or wilderness survival challenges. However, if you’re looking for something more accessible—and less terrifying—you may find what you need right around the corner.

Surprise! Fun Activities in the Work Place Build Strategy, Comradery, and Trust

Why do special delivery flowers bring more joy than those bought at the corner market? Why are cheers following a walk-off game winning homerun so much louder than those acknowledging an early lead held until the last out is made in the ninth inning of a baseball game? Why is that first date kiss more highly anticipated than an embrace from a long-term partner? Or, audience belly laughs heard when water shoots from a flower on a circus clown’s lapel into an unsuspecting recipient’s eye?

It turns out that humans crave those unexpected pleasures and events more than the status quo in their daily lives. In an April 2001 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from Emory University and Baylor College of Medicine summarized their findings of an exercise where they used a computer-controlled device to squirt water or fruit juice into awaiting participants’ mouths. The squirts came in patterns, both consistent and broken. What they found was that the brain’s pleasure centers subconsciously reacted more favorably to unexpected patterns.

FROM CAVE PAINTINGS TO APPS

HOW THE EVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATION TOOLS DRIVES CSM GROUP’S ENGAGEMENT

People have been communicating since their appearance on Earth. The act of communicating started with sets of disorganized signs and sounds to transfer messages from one human to another—most likely to warn of danger or pinpoint the location of food.

As sounds developed into words and then word patterns, the art of storytelling evolved to pass on information in tribal communities or villages from one generation to the next. Cave paintings entered the picture 40,000 years ago as juices from fruits or animal blood were used to paint tales of primitive life.

Designing a Collaborative Workforce – TIPS FROM TOWERPINKSTER

How many of your employees or co-workers would show up to work the day after winning the Powerball jackpot?

If your answer is a resounding “no one,” then your company might need to rethink that mission statement hanging on the wall behind your door. Companies who fully align their mission with their business strategies experience dramatic doses of creativity, innovation, and commitment from team members. These companies also find themselves “sticky” place to be, meaning they easily attract and retain high-performing workers.

It’s Time to Rock Reward and Recognition

“Great job!”

When it comes to motivating team members, the simple act of offering praise and recognition for a job well done goes a long way.

Why?

A Culture of Excellence

Every executive and business owner sets out to achieve immediate results for accelerated performance and lasting change. A few make it big, some lose what they gain, and some never even come close to achieving desired results.

Greenleaf Trust: Financial Fitness at Any Age

What image comes to mind when you think of wealth management? Charles Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge? Or, maybe it’s Mr. Potter in the 1946 film It’s A Wonderful Life? Well, if you imagine stuffy old bankers in three-piece suits, then your vision is as outdated as those notorious villains.