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Helping Students Learn to Dream Again

Local author Sandra McLeod Humphrey uses her books to encourage students to dream big.

Sandra McLeod Humphrey dreamed of being a dancer when she was younger. She took ballet but eventually made a career as a psychologist. Humphrey retired after 31 years in the field and started talking to students in schools.

One thing about those talks stuck in her mind, though. While she had dreamed of being a dancer, the kids she spoke to didn’t have dreams of their own.

“I just could not get over how many kids had just given up,” said Humphrey, who lives in Minnetonka near the Hopkins and St. Louis Park border.

That was the catalyst for two of Humphrey’s books—Dare To Dream!: 25 Extraordinary Lives and They Stood Alone!: 25 Men and Women Who Made a Difference.

The latter book—which had its official launch just last week following a November 2011 release—profiles 25 people Humphrey chose because they didn’t conform to societal expectations. She made a point to select a range of occupations, a variety of historical periods and both sexes.

It starts with Christopher Columbus and Leonardo da Vinci and runs through Jackie Robinson and Neil Armstrong—with people like Clara Barton, Marie Curie and Albert Einstein in between.

Meanwhile, Dare to Dream! tells the story of 25 ordinary people whose drive allowed them to accomplish extraordinary feats. It includes contemporary figures, such as Michael Jordan and Bill Cosby, and historical figures, such as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison.

“I want these kids to know that even if they don’t fit in with the cool group, they can do great things,” she said.

Humphrey has written eight books total—all of them since she retired in 1997. While she may not be a dancer, she has no doubt she’s still living her dream.

“I discovered writing was always my dream. I just didn’t know,” Humphrey said.

Darlene Foster October 02, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Sandra deserves a medal for what she has done for young people. Encouraging them to dream and to follow thier dreams is so important. These books should be in every school and every home for that matter. Thanks for this article.
Micki Peluso October 02, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Sandra is not just a proficient writer--she always seems to sense what it is that young adults and children need /want to read. Whatever childhood problem arises, Sandra has an answer and a book for it. She's a true heroine for todays, sometimes "lost' children."
Peggy Strack October 02, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Sandra is making her dream come true of inspiring kids to be the best they can be...to believe in themselves and to persist with their aspirations. I hope her fan base and audience keeps growing. She truly has an important message for both children and adults.
Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D. October 02, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Sandra is an accomplished writer who knows just what our 21st Century children are in need of. Her books are right on target, so teachers as well as their students, can "jump right into" using practical skills to gain awareness and help for bullying behaviors, plus so much more. I especially love how Sandra imparts hope for empowerment within children. Our children should realize that dreaming leads into accomplished goals, and this is Sandra's plan for them all.
Pamela Courtney October 02, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Sandra is an educator in the purest sense. At her core is this IDEA that every child has special gifts to offer our world. That who we are, as we are, is Enough. You only have to read her Dare to Dream series to see how strongly she feels this. This amazing platform, along with her books, are prime examples of how she encourages readers to dream beyond the boundaries of their circumstances. To never shrink from who they truly are. I am thankful to Sandra and her support.
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Thanks so much, Micki, What a wonderful compliment and I so appreciate it!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:54 AM
Thanks so much, Peggy, I hope that all our kids everywhere will believe in themselves and find their passions!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:56 AM
You're so right, Cherrye--my dream for all our kids is to discover their passions and to persevere until they attain their dreams!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Thanks so much for your words of affirmation, Pamela, they are so appreciated!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Thanks so much, Darlene, and I hope that my books will rekindle (or perhaps ignite) some dreams and aspirations for all our kids!
Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins October 02, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Thank you Sandra for your continued concern and action to assure young adults that not only should they dream but encourage them to dream big. Providing role models and inspiring our young to reach for the stars, gives society in whole a brighter future for leadership that will some day shape our world where perhaps we will finally be a world without so much despair. Thank you so much for loving our world and caring about everyone the future of it's outcome. As you know from part of my book title, Extraordinary Dreams is what I believe in and I am in complete support of the tremendous influence you have been with our children and adults. Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins
Sandra Nachlinger October 02, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Thank you for this wonderful post about Sandra Humphrey. Both DARE TO DREAM and THEY STOOD ALONE offer positive role models and encouragement to anyone who reads them -- children or adults -- things that are often lacking in today's world. I am looking forward to more books by this gifted author.
Mary Firmin October 02, 2012 at 04:23 AM
As a transplanted English girl, I can learn an awful lot about American HIstory with Sandra's new book. Her teaching skills are incredible so I know it will be very informative. I wish you much lots and lots of sales, my friend. All the best, Mary Firmin
Patricia Anne Pierce-garcia Schaack October 02, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Hi, I first met Sandy through the blog postings from Micki Peluso and was drawn into her world by what Micki wrote about her book. Being an African-American that came out of the ghetto life of the South, and is now living in Europe, I know how important it is to have role models; and to have people who point you to the fact that your achievements in life are not based on whether or not you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Since my encounter with Sandy through the book review, I have become more aware of what she is doing and how important it is for children, as well as adults, to widen their horizon by reading her books. Dreaming begins at home, but how can a child dream about achievement, if the parents have a hopeless view of life. Therefore, I see Sandy's book as a have to be read book not only for childrens, but for everyone and anyone who wants to move ahead and capture his purpose for life. We are all born with a purpose, and it is never too late to live it. The people in Sandy's book proclaimed that throughout their lifetime. They did not have an easy life. I remember reading about George Washington Carver as a child, and I can remember thinking if he could do it so could I. Finally, not only the people she has written about, but Sandy herself show us that it is never too late to move into your life calling and live your dream. Congratulations, Sandy. My heart rejoices with you. Ciao, Patricia
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Thanks so much, Rosemary, and I think we both share the same objective for all our kids--to dream big and to work hard to attain their dreams!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Thanks so much, Sandra, and I also wish some of the more positive role models were given more recognition!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Thanks, Mary, and I hope my books will inspire all our kids everywhere to DARE TO DREAM BIG!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 01:58 PM
What a beautiful comment, Patricia, and what I noticed as I was researching my biographees was that, more often than not, they had to overcome great obstacles to attain their goals--they had to persevere and never give up!
Martha Steward October 02, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Sandra's books and her blog encourage readers to remember " don't let others steal your dreams" within her writing Sandra also inspires others to "take a leap of faith" to discover more of who you are.
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 02, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Thanks, Martha, I hope all our kids will discover their passions and never give up their dreams!
Deirdret October 03, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Sandy's books are so inspirational. I have read "They Stood Alone" and am currently reading "Dare to Dream." There are so many little things in these stories that have amazed me. The accomplishments of the individuals she chose to highlight are astounding in light of the circumstances of their lives. They were all overcomers and I think they are all role models, at least should be, for this younger generation. I am 56 and have learned so many things. I have also learned that you are never to old to fulfill your dreams! These books contain information schools have long since stopped teaching, but that each student should know. I highly recommend them, they are a 5-star read!
Sandra McLeod Humphrey October 04, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Thanks so much, Deirdre, and I agree that you're never too old to fulfill your dreams!

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