Jill Rigby Garner… a person of Character

CONSIDERING, she launched Manners of the Heart—a respect-based heart education organization—in 1999 with the intent of helping children to develop an “other-centered” viewpoint as opposed to a self-centered viewpoint. “We have attempted to educate the mind, and we’ve neglected morals.” She uses a statement by Theodore Roosevelt to drive the very foundation of her nonprofit: “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is the educate a menace to society.”

CONSIDERING, the impact of Manners of the Heart has been significant. With limited funding and a small staff, the nonprofit has still reached 79,500 school children with its message; 1,876 curriculum kits have been distributed; more than 95,000 parenting books have been sold and 5,900 teachers have received instruction through in-service training and conference workshops.

CONSIDERING, her greatest desire is for every interaction that a child has on campus to be a positive one. “We call it a ‘from the front door to the back door’ approach. We want to touch the lives of all—from the janitor to the principal.”

CONSIDERING, the Manners of the Heart program is finally being integrated into the elementary curriculum of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System. Within three years, it will be in all 49 schools. “It’s only taken 16 years and six school superintendents until finally Warren Drake was put in place. His mantra is ‘Respect.’”

CONSIDERING, her love of children and her belief that these children mold the future of our community propel everything she does. “We don’t tell children they’re great, we help them become great.”

CONSIDERING, she recognizes that it takes the support of parents to make a difference in the lives of children. She is integrating a strong parental component to complement the unit along with four parent workshops at every school each year.

CONSIDERING, she credits the success of Manners of the Heart to the collaboration between school districts, the schools and the communities. The Charles Lamar Family Foundation is supporting the parental component. And the Boo Grigsby Foundation is supporting the efforts as well.

CONSIDERING, her passion is contagious, and her research is significant. She makes a believer out of everyone she reaches out to for support. She recognized a need and she acted. And her vision rings true: “The education of the heart is the heart of education.”