BY Todd Werner - Principal, Belle Plaine High School

On Tuesday afternoon Belle Plaine Jr./Sr. High School held an assembly for students in grades 6-12.  The featured speaker was Joshua Coburn, life coach, author, and former body modification artist, who is traveling the country speaking to various companies and schools on his Manners & Motivation Tour.  Coburn, who is a former BGM graduate has spoken at other area schools such as HLV and BGM came highly recommended from both staff and students from these schools.

His message focuses on the challenges many teens and even adults face everyday such as depression, anxiety, drug abuse, suicide, self esteem, and bullying.  These are all the same experiences he went through and he was able to share with the students how he changed his life around when he reached a low point and how he has continued to face his challenges everyday.  One of the keys to changing his life was HIS choice to change the course of his life and take control of his own life by making a conscious decision to be the person he truly wanted to be.  Another key to this was to "Be Nice".  He also added, "If you have something nice to say, say it".  The main pieces to the the whole philosophy are to DREAM BIG, BELIEVE BIG, and SUCCEED BIG.

His message was truly genuine and connected deeply with students.  His approach of speaking WITH the students and not necessarily to them caused students to feel the message more strongly and form a stronger emotional attachment to the message.  The reaction of students after the assembly was evident when nearly 80 students remained to speak, take pictures, and get autographs from Josh.  Students remained in the gym for over 40 minutes after he had finished his presentation.  Coburn shared that the reaction of students after he is finished demonstrates how well he connected.  I'd say he connected very well.  The last couple days I've also asked many students about his presentation and the their reactions have been 100% positive.  Many have said he was the best speaker they've ever heard at Belle Plaine.  Coburn continues to communicate with students through social media.  This back and forth interaction is different than other presenters and will keep the message alive for as long as students continue to follow the philosophy.

All types of students took something different from his talk and all connected with him in a way other speakers have failed to do.  Four days later I still hear students talking about Coburn and have even heard positive comments from parents whose kids came home talking about the great speaker they had at school.  I've even used his message to work with student to student problems that have come up since.  I can also say that I've noticed students speaking more positively toward one another in school and hopefully this approach can help raise everyone up to see that they can feel good about who they are and take the initiative to be who they want to be.

Thank you to Joshua Coburn for coming to Belle Plaine and being a part of making our school a better place to be! 



"My daughter is an 8th grade student at Johnston Middle School where you spoke last week.  I wanted to tell you that she talked about you all weekend, how inspiring you were and she said your speech was the best she's ever heard.  I think it's fabulous what you're doing, and please know that your words are having an impact on our kids!  Thank you so much for coming to our school."

- Melinda / Parent


Walking into the auditorium, the students were curious. Josh's promotional materials had piqued that curiosity but it was his message that kept our students captivated. He took them through his darkest days and pulled them through with humor, positivity, and insightfulness. His message has endurance; we even had several students include him as an example in their final semester project for English several months after his speaking engagement. Somehow Josh mixes in good old-fashioned manners yet still relates to today's teenager flawlessly. His willingness to stay after to meet with individual and groups of students cemented the rapport and drew students who sometimes have difficulty making connections at school. Josh destroys those walls that students put up which makes them open to his positive message.

- Jolie Morgan

Dallas Center-Grimes English Teacher


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