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Donna Connolly

BA Philosophy

Donna Connolly taught for several years with LAUSD teaching ESL and with Burbank Unified School District as a substitute school teacher. As a substitute, she had the opportunity to teach many subjects and grade levels.  After the birth of her first son, Donna left the workforce to become a full time mom. As a stay-at-home mom, she spent little time at home. For three years, Donna sat on the Scholarship Board at Mission College and worked briefly as the Executive Director and fundraiser.  She has volunteered in the field of education and with community organizations, writing posts for education blogs and Letters to the Editor.   Donna decided to pull her oldest child out of public school and homeschool. It's been an exciting and wonderful new adventure. As a homeschooler, Donna has taken her love of learning, teaching experience and passion for history and developed a course for HuckleBerry!   She is a UCLA graduate with a degree in Philosophy, and believes the number one goal of any instructor is to instill a love of learning in the students he or she is honored to teach.

Life Skills

Ages:  12-14


For this class, I will be using Overcoming Obstacles, a free, award-winning, and research-based K-12 curriculum. With hundreds of activity-based lessons covering more than 30 skills, students learn how to communicate effectively, make informed decisions, and how to set and achieve goals, resolve conflicts, solve problems, respect one another, and more.


Over the 11 weeks of the Fall Semester, this class will cover the following topics:


  1. Giving and earning respect–Students will identify people whom they respect and the reasons they respect them. They will analyze the concept of self-respect and evaluate their own levels of self-respect.

  2. Identifying strengths and weaknesses–Students will recognize that each individual has personal strengths. They will identify their individual strengths and weaknesses and identify ways in which they can use their weaknesses to their advantage.

  3. Staying healthy–Students will recognize and discuss how a balanced diet, exercise and sleep affects their health and well-being. They will create weekly plans for eating well, sleeping regularly, and exercising.

  4. Clarifying values–Students will analyze how their values influence the decisions they make.  They will identify the people, possessions, activities, and future plans they value. Students will demonstrate how their values influence their decision making. 

  5. Avoiding stereotypes–Students define “stereotyping,” and analyze the effects of applying stereotypes to people. Students identify ways to avoid stereotyping others. 

  6. Personal power–Students will discover that they have the power to affect outcomes in their lives by the decisions they make.

  7. Goal setting–Students will recognize the importance of having goals, and how to recognize that meaningful goals need to be personal and realistic. They will also recognize that goals have consequences and deadlines. The students will list goals and use specific criteria to evaluate them.

  8. Perseverance–Students will recognize that they do not need to abandon a goal when they meet obstacles or difficulties. They will define “perseverance” and discuss its importance, and revise stepping-stone goals in order to overcome an obstacle and achieve a goal. 

  9. Developing a positive attitude–Students will recognize the power of their attitudes by participating in a demonstration that helps them identify positive and negative attitudes and their consequences. Students will analyze the effects of positive and negative environments. 

  10. Accountability–Students will recognize the importance of accountability in their lives. They will explore the positive consequences of being accountable for their actions and demonstrate an understanding of accountability.

  11. Handling stress and managing time–Students will recognize the ability to manage time by creating to-do lists. they  will recognize the importance of prioritizing activities in order to manage their time. Students will apply time-management skills to their own lives.


Example lesson and activity:


Students will have 30 seconds to choose one person and one possession they would take with them to a deserted island. They can assume that their basic needs, such as food, water, and shelter, will be met. When 30 seconds have elapsed, the student will reveal their answers. The students will be encouraged to explain why they made their particular choices. 


Lesson: different individuals value different things. Students will discover that what they value will help them make decisions and plans that they are comfortable with. 


Activity: Would you rather…?

Students break up into groups and ask each other questions. 

For example:

Would you rather wear clothes with patterns or without patterns? 

Would you rather be on stage or in the audience? 

Would you rather be an athlete or an artist? 

Would you rather spend time with your family or with your friends? 

Would you rather do something with others or work on something alone? 


This activity helps students to identify what is important to them in life and how their values inform the decision they make.


All of the life skills listed above will be taught through role-play, games, activities and engagement with other students in the class making this a fun and interactive course. Every parent will have access to the full curriculum each week so they are fully aware of everything we will be doing in class. 

Winter & Spring:

Life SKills will be expanded to include Career Development & Entrepreneurship depending on student interest.


I am very excited about this class. I taught Career Development and Entrepreneurship at Huckleberry to high schoolers using the Junior Achievement curriculum and both classes were fun, engaging, and successful.


Donna Connolly

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