ABOUT

When I ask my teenage clients what they want to major in, most of them look at me with blank stares. I don’t blame them; when I was their age, I wasn’t sure where my love of theatre and singing would lead me. I certainly never once imagined I would be a teacher, life coach, or potential therapist. But looking back now, I can see the germination of such careers, because at the core, I was always fascinated by human behavior.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Theatre Arts from the University of Michigan, I moved to Nashville, TN, where I taught yoga and fitness classes to subsidize my creative endeavors as a singer-songwriter. I shortly became a bit disillusioned by the tireless pursuit of fame and felt the all-too-familiar nudge to learn and grow, wanting to exercise some of my other strengths. So, I embarked on a graduate program in English at Belmont University, where I could explore a wide range of literature, strengthen my own writing skills, and potentially prepare for a career as a college professor. By the second semester, I was accepted and attended Belmont’s graduate teaching program as well.

 

The first English class I ever taught was at Nashville State Technical Community College in January of 2004. It was an introductory writing course for students whose reading and writing skills were underdeveloped. I learned how to modify my lesson plans and meet the various needs of my students’ learning styles and aptitudes.

 

After 3 years of teaching English at various colleges in Nashville, I moved to Washington, DC to be closer to my family. I primarily applied for positions in education policy, as I was interested in some of the new initiatives in education. Little did I know that the true difference I was seeking would be found at a Title I school near Fort Belvoir, VA.

As an English and creative writing teacher at Mount Vernon High School in Alexandria, VA for four years, I mainly taught my students the fundamentals of grammar, how to structure a five-paragraph essay, and how to properly analyze literature using rhetorical strategies. But soon, as I witnessed the various challenges my students were facing both at home and amongst their peers, I instituted “Talk Time” every Friday during the last 30 minutes of class.

 

"Talk Time" was an opportunity for my students to explore their emotions, thoughts, and feelings about themselves and others. Essentially, such an activity created a safe environment for my students to build insight, discover coping strategies, learn about proper communication techniques, and in the end, become more emotionally intelligent. As a result of “Talk Time,” many students began to visit my classroom during lunch or after school to talk to me about the problems they were facing. This is when I truly realized how much I enjoyed working one-on-one with my students, mentoring and guiding them as they navigated through some pretty difficult waters.

In my fourth year of teaching, I attended a year-long life coaching program and received my certification in 2011 from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. As a Certified Professional Life Coach, founder of Limitless Heart Life Coaching, LLC (est. 2011) and author of Leap Before You Look; Seven Steps to Discover Who You Are, What You Want, and How to Change the World (2014), I specialize in life purpose coaching and college counseling. In the past six years, I have worked with clients from all over the country, many of whom have gone on to pursue their dreams at institutions such as Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Tulane, BC, BU, American, Northwestern, Chapman, University of Oregon, Boulder, UT Austin, Indiana, and many more.

 

Having been a yoga and Pilates instructor for five years in my mid-twenties, I continue to fuse life coaching techniques with mindfulness and meditation, knowing that the way to best optimize an individual’s potential is to foster emotional, physical, and spiritual growth. And I continue to expand my knowledge and experience as a graduate student in Pepperdine University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy program. 

 

I have done numerous teaching videos for eHow, conducted several social-emotional workshops at Simi Valley High School, and have led goal setting seminars amongst parenting groups in Woodland Hills. Most recently, I sought out resources to further develop SEL curriculum and eventually joined True Connection in 2016 as Curriculum Director. In the last two years, I have collaborated with the TC team to create HiEQ, a social-emotional learning curriculum to be integrated into classrooms. 

 

© 2017 Tenley Hardin