Every day teacher Brenda Rico enters through the doorway of her fifth grade classroom and prepares for the arrival of her students. Child after child files into the room, each one a sponge; ready to absorb every bit of information their teacher has to offer them.
During her 26 years of teaching, Brenda has developed a solid idea of the values she hopes to instill in her students and the knowledge she wants to impart on them. So,when she stumbled upon Ingredients of Outliers: A Recipe for Personal Achievement during the summer of 2013, Brenda knew the book would impact both her life and the lives of her students.
Not long after, she began to read passages from Ingredients of Outliers to her students.
“The kids were on the edge of their seats and every day after we came back from lunch, I read them more,” Brenda said. “They were taking notes, they were asking questions and I actually had a kid writing on his arm trying to take notes.”
Brenda wrote the attributes highlighted in each chapter up on the white board for the children to discuss and learn. She could tell her students enjoyed their daily story time.
In the book, author Dr. John Shufeldt explains how he didn’t exactly fit the mold of a perfect student in his early years, but how his early shortcomings only amplified his ambitions to succeed. This resonated with Brenda in a particular way.
“As an educator, I now find myself smiling as I reflect on my students who tend to be a bit “quirky” or different,” said Brenda. “I often wonder how their exceptionalities may help them achieve great success as they pursue their dreams.”
The book has allowed her to change her perspective and she now tries to help students uncover their own unique, hidden talents and overcome obstacles that could interfere with their future achievements.
“I feel more capable of ‘planting the seeds’ of knowledge by teaching my children the strategies offered by Dr. Shufeldt,” she said.
Reaching beyond her career and into her personal life, Brenda said the book allowed her to overcome one of her own obstacles.
“I tend to not put myself out there because I’m afraid I’m going to look foolish or I’m going to look like a failure,” Brenda said. “Reading that chapter [on failure] had the biggest impact on me because most people who succeed, who are great leaders or who do well, failed a lot and it’s okay to fail…I couldn’t help but think this is everything I would really want to teach my children, from the historical little stories to the quotes.”
One of Brenda’s students wrote a letter to Dr. Shufeldt.
“I love your book, and I can’t wait for when your kids’ book comes out,” the student said. “You made me a better version of myself.”
These students inspired Dr. Shufeldt to write a second version of Ingredients of Outliers entitled Ingredients for Young Outliers: A Student Handbook for Success, which is intended for a younger audience. He is scheduled to return to the elementary school again this March for a reading and book signing, shortly after the new book is published.