As the school year comes to a close, it’s time to pause and thank the people that have some of the biggest impact on our lives…teachers.

This week marks National Teacher Appreciation Week, a time for all of us to express gratitude to those who have not only molded our minds, but provided us with inspiration, direction, guidance, and confidence.

Today, we want to shine the spotlight on the amazing work of author and illustrator, Jena Ball. Jena, a consummate animal lover and former teacher, wanted to develop a series that taught children the importance of kindness and compassion. The result: CritterKin Book Series. Her books are designed to teach children that animals (critters) are family (kin).

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 11.51.24 AMThe CritterKin books have been especially inspirational for young students and teachers have been reaching out to Jena, asking her to present to their classes. Momentum for this movement has grown. Jena now collaborates with teachers all over the county on project-based learning campaigns (check out the video on the right to see highlights). Entire schools are now getting involved and working on projects to teach kids the importance of emotional intelligence while incorporating core-based learning skills.

Our never-ending gratitude goes out to people like Jena, and teachers all over the world who work hard to ensure a brighter future for today’s younger generation.

Take some time this week, remember the key teachers in your life that went the extra mile, took elevated interest, and generally worked to see you succeed not only in your studies, but in your life. And say thank you.