Emergenetics International is thrilled to have Marshawn Yuhas, 8th Grade Counselor and Counseling Department Chair at Ranch View Middle School, as part of our great speaker lineup for the 2017 Brain Summit in Vancouver, Canada.

Let’s get to know Marshawn better in advance of the 2017 Emergenetics Brain Summit.

Q: How did you get introduced to STEP/Emergenetics?

A: I was first introduced to the tool in 2013 when I went through a Meeting of the Minds (MOTM) with my staff. I’ll never forget it. It was the first time in my life that I felt that it was OK to be who I am, and who I am is actually pretty great! From that moment on, I wanted to share the experience with everyone! I have since had the opportunity to take the lead on STEP implementation at my school and continue my own journey with STEP!

Q: Since you’ve implemented STEP at your school, have you had any interesting “a-ha” moments regarding the tool and/or STEP Theory?

A: I use the tool to develop and implement Mental Health interventions for some of our most impacted students. It’s amazing to see a student’s face light up when you celebrate who they are through their Youth Report! There are so many kids who just want to be understood, and STEP gives me the power to see my students in such a special light. With teen suicide and self-harm on the rise, I truly believe that we can save lives with STEP. Every child deserves the opportunity to be understood and feel connected to adults and peers at school. The Youth Report provides a “roadmap” for my students, and allows me to reach them through their preferences. STEP has changed the way I work with kids, and I’m excited to continue to use the tool to help my community!

Q: Do you have a favorite STEP/Emergenetics activity or exercise?

A: I love Brain Gym! Every time I go into a classroom to do a guidance lesson, we always start and end with a reflective Brain Gym activity. This gives students a chance to disconnect and take a moment to be present in their own world. Our students are lacking the skills they need to “unplug” from social media, so it’s important that we teach them skills to be mindful and present.

Q: As a middle school counselor you may often see how challenging it is for teenagers and their parents to understand each other. How does STEP/Emergenetics close the communication gap between them?

A: Every time I have a meeting with a parent, I print out their child’s Youth Report to use during our time together. Every parent I have worked with since implementing STEP has been incredibly grateful for the tool, and how they can use it to be a better parent. Recently, I was working with a student who has preferences in Analytical and Conceptual thinking. His parents know how bright he is; however, he was really struggling to get his thoughts on paper. When I debriefed their son’s Youth Report, it was almost as if a light went on, and his parents were able to see the beauty in their son’s thinking. We were able to come up with interventions for home and school that allowed my student to be his best self. We still have work to do, but now we are able to provide help with fidelity and purpose for specific student needs.

Q: You’ve been recognized in your community for turning the reputation of middle school around because you are so positive and engaging. What is the key to having a positive mindset and working with teenagers?

A: I love these kids. I love them like they were my own. I am 95th percentile Red and third-third Expressive, so they know how much I love them! Understanding my profile has allowed me to be my best self and lead with my strengths. Prior to my initial MOTM, I always felt that I was too sensitive and talked too much. Now I know that who I am is actually pretty special, and I feel confident just being myself! I’m also incredibly fortunate to work with an amazing staff. We’ve been through some tough times together, but we stick together and support each other. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my amazing colleagues. I am so proud to work alongside such amazing educators.

Q: One of your hobbies is baking. What is your favorite recipe? Do you have a recipe for life?

A: I don’t know if I have a favorite recipe because I love to try new things! However, there is a special place in my kitchen for my Grandma’s recipes. My grandma was an amazing Southern cook and my champion. I don’t know where I’d be without her. She taught me that food is love. Every time I make a recipe from her kitchen, I know she’s with me. I lost her to Alzheimer’s this past January. I think she would have gotten a kick out of Emergenetics!

Q: The theme of the Brain Summit is “Emergineering the Future.” How would you describe the term Emergineering? What is an Emergineer?

A: To me, an Emergineer is someone who facilitates growth among others by helping to tap into their individual strengths. We all ‘emerge’ from such different places and develop our convictions based on our experience. Such a myriad of diverse experiences is essential to creating a global community of open-minded thinkers who are ready to face the challenges of the 21st century. We are stronger when we work together, and Emergenetics allows us to foster an inclusive environment that will carry us forward.