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My Living Heroes


#4. Charlie Jabaley

Unlike the other three heroes I mentioned, Charlie is someone that I don't personally know but I still think he is an inspirational person. Charlie Jabaley spent most of his life pursuing his job and making money by creating a bus

iness in the music industry, but he was overweight. It started in high school until he reached his heaviest weight of 304 pounds. Charlie had a dream of becoming an athlete so at the age of 28, he quit his job and decided to become healthier. So far,

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Living Hero #1

3820653813?profile=original#1. Liana Green

Liana Green was my high school advisor for many years and I would consider her a good friend and mentor to me. Liana is passionate about things that she likes to do. Two of her passions are music and rock climbing. She led the 


music program at school and played several instruments professionally. I participated in a few of her music classes and her rock climbing classes. I think she made me a better person and she always challenged me to be better. Liana helped me become who I am

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Living Hero #2

3820653813?profile=original#2. Andy Smallman

Andy Smallman was the director of the school that I went to for high school and I can honestly say that he is one of the people that has helped shape me for the person I am today. I am grateful to get to know him and continue to know him. He also taught some of my favorite classes over the years like Band of Brothers and Developmental Theory. One reason I really liked his classes was because of the way he taught it. Band of Brothers is a TV show about the 101st airborne division

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3820651337?profile=originalAccording to KidsHealth.org children 6 - 12 years of  age need physical activity to build strength, coordination,  confidence — and to lay the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle.

They're also gaining more control over how active they are.

School-age kids should have many chances to participate in a variety of activities, sports, and games that fit for their personality, ability, age, and interests. Brainstorm with your kids on activities that feel right. Most kids won't mind a daily dose of fitn

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Mindfulness for Kids: Lesson Today

3820652893?profile=originalToday we worked with the kids with their mindfulness meditation and breathing meditation.  We keep it fairly simple, to sit, in good posture, and focus on breathing in silently through the nose, and exhaling a little more slowly.   And paying attention to slowing breath.  Keeping mind on the breathing.   Relaxing and softening muscles and the body.   

We talked to them about using this tool when they are experiencing strong emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, as a way to decrease those difficult
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My Living Heros

Living Heroes #5
Carl Pepple

Carl Pepple was born in the mid-1970s. He went to college, then became a scientist. Somewhere in there, he married Kathrine Pepple. He started doing martial arts and became a black belt in multiple versions of martial arts. He is testing for his black belt in one type of martial art in a few months, and it will be his third black belt or higher in three types of martial arts. He just recently had a baby, Vivian, and she looks up to me a lot. Carl is one of those peopl

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My Living Heros

Living Heros #3
Ansel Leveque

My Mom is very hardworking, intelligent, peaceful, and loving. She was born in California. She loved school from her first day. It might have been hard for her at times, but she pulled through. Her Mom, my Grandma, was very loving to her, and also very smart. There might have been times when she and her mom fought, but they always made up. Her mom got divorced from her Dad when she was three years old. She went to collage at Amherst along with my Dad. She first s

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3820651857?profile=originalPersistence:  finish what you start.   Persevere!   Such an important trait to develop.   Here is the worksheet to get kids going with how it works.


MeLisa Turcott Strongheart is a Master Instructor and owner at Mercer Island Martial Arts.  She is a 6th Dan, and in the process of testing for her 7th Dan Master Instructor.  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology, Mental Health Counseling.   She brings these two areas of specialization to her work with fa

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 2nd-dan-blackbelt.jpg   Being a black belt has shown to me the difference between teaching and leading. When I first received the rank, the responsibilities of being a black belt seemed immense. I had this impression that as a leader in the group, I needed to know every form and every kick by heart. It took months of observing my senior black belts to understand that they too were still learning, and still had moments of difficulty. Being a black belt did mean that I had to step up and be a leader, one who solved p

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2nd DAN BB Leadership Project

red-cross.jpg?width=158My leadership project was done in conjunction with my volunteer effort with the local chapter of the Red Cross. I have been a Red Cross volunteer for almost five years and work in the DST group. This is the group which manages the IT and communication for the Red Cross. As one of the more technical members of the team, I was asked to lead an effort for building out a new communication system for the King/Snohomish county area. The DST leadership had put together a grant proposal two years ago fo

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  1. What are my goals upon having reached black belt for my future training and learning?

My goals are to learn the new forms and techniques for my belt level.  To continue improving on what I already have learned and continue learning new techniques.  To get stronger through practice.  Practice kicking higher, stronger and quicker.  Practice my punches to be quicker and harder.  Practice my blocks to be quicker and more accurate.

 2.  What kind of black belt will I be?

I will be an inspiring black bel

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Cho Gyo Nim Merly's Essays

3820651374?profile=originalWhat I have achieved in life related to what I have learned in dojang?

When I first started Martial Arts, I had ailments that have affected the left side of my body, since I started working out and stretching, I find that I feel so much better, the pain is not as intense, I feel fantastic and motivated and excited to come and work out.  In addition to the physical triumph, I am in a unique situation where I work out and I also teach.  By getting to work with students, each day presents new goals

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My Black Belt Goals

goal.jpg?width=300My Black Belt Goals

When I pass my test, my black belt goals are:

1.      Work hard on my technique, become more accurate and precise

2.      Learn more about the traditions of Tae Kwon Do so I can be more respectful to the sport

3.      Focus on getting my speed up, especially when it comes to spinning kicks

4.      Work harder to get better on my left side

5.      Be able to remember all the forms

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What Kind of Black Belt will I Be?

Korean-TKD5.pngWhat Kind of Black Belt will I Be?

I’d like to be the kind of black belt that with my own experience and knowledge, anyone (kid or adult) feel they can approach. I’d like to be a responsible black belt, one that can correct someone if I see they are not doing something correctly. Also give praise to someone that is doing something good, and encourage me fellow martial artists to achieve their goals. I’d like to keep learning and grow as a martial artist, work hard and have fun.

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My Living Heroes -Graham Smyth

3820651580?profile=original1. Valerie Polack

Valerie Polack, known to me as Val, is a dear friend and mentor who lives right here on Mercer Island. Through her kindness and generosity, Valerie has taught me over the years what it means to be selfless, and to give without thought of return. Valerie has also contended with cancer, and has been an inspiration to me by virtue of both her strength and her grace. I aspire to one impact as many lives as she has.

2. Gabby Douglas

Miss Douglas is not just a hero to me, but to many Am

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Graham Smyth: Black Belt Requirements

  1. blackbelt.png?width=300What are my goals upon having reached my black belt for my future training and learning?


In addition to advancing my knowledge and skill in Tae Kwon Do, I’m also very interested in better learning how to teach and mentor our newer and younger students. My time spent at Mercer Island Martial Arts over the course of my life has been invaluable, in the sense that I’ve learned lessons there that I believe I could not have learned anywhere else. The martial artists who trained me had a major role in

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  Susanne Blaberg is a great leader, competitor, and most importantly a great mother.

My mom is an amazing leader, she helps me and my sister stay on track, helping us in all sports, and school work if she knows it or not. A great leader has flexibility, and confidence my mom shows this when she gets an email about sport location changes last minute, and needing to dive me to 2 practices in a row. She knows we won't come home with a bad report card or missing a layup in basketball or an easy catc

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Dawn-Logo.jpgFor my community service project I have put together with the help of Grand Master Strongheart and Master Wells a women’s self-defense class at the do-jang. Reading and hearing on the news a lot about women getting attacked I thought it would be a great idea for women to know how to protect themselves in case of an attack. I have invited friend and acquaintances to this seminar. This will be an opportunity for them to learn the basics in self-defense.


During the seminar they will learn how to:


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