Sandi Herrera on why core values matter in education on this Episode of Leading Las Vegas.

Sandi Herrera -The Importance of Core Values in Education [Video Transcript]

Danielle Ford: Welcome to another episode of Leading Las Vegas. I’m Danielle Ford of where visibility makes a difference. This is my wonderful guest Sandi Herrera! Sandi Herrera is the Founder and CEO of Got Core Values, a non-profit, and I am just in love with it. I’ll let her tell you a little bit more about that and how she got started with that.

Sandi Herrera: Thank you so much! I’m so excited to be here. I got started with Core Values four years ago. I used to work for Tony Hsieh’s other company, Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos, and he started another company called Delivering Happiness. With Delivering Happiness we were focused on transforming corporate culture and during that time schools were reaching out and saying “We want to be happy like Zappos too, can you help us?” So I started volunteering my time with these schools. And I left Delivering Happiness 4 years ago to solely focus on transforming the culture on our schools.

Danielle Ford: I love that. I think that’s amazing. I think that is so brilliant to see a need and a way of doing something and then trying to totally alter it to work for a completely different Industry. That’s just so insightful and shows what kind of visionary and leader you are, because a lot of people do not understand it at first and you’re just kind of like plowing through. No this makes sense, this makes sense, and you did it! And just recently you became licensed? Or you got non-profit status?

Sandi Herrera: Yes. I became a non-profit effective in January and am super excited to be kicking that off and really learning that world. The reason I didn’t become a non-profit right away is because I didn’t know that world I didn’t know how to be a non-profit. And so to actually go through and learn that was detracting from what I was actually wanting to do, which was to work with educators.

Danielle Ford: That’s going to be even more difficult because you learned it, like you said, at a corporate level. Obviously that’s not a non-profit, it’s just an innovative way of doing something and then to take that and make sense to actually raise money for it that must’ve been really tricky.

Sandi Herrera: It’s a whole new world, and at the same time a non-profit is still a business. So running it from that corporate mindset, the more people that I talk to in the non-profit world, they continue to say just continue to focus on running it like a business and you’ll be successful.

Danielle Ford: Absolutely. It’s a lot of the bleeding hearts that get into the non-profit and they feel guilty for asking for money – but really you need to make a bunch of money so you can make your difference in the world.

Sandi Herrera: In order to make a bigger impact. And I really got into this work, and the root behind my passion for it was my son having an unfortunate experience in school during kindergarten. And so I had him, the intention was to send him to Catholic school because brand new parents in Las Vegas, not knowing anything but that the school district was the bottom of the nation.

So when we decided to put him into Catholic school, it was “oh he’ll be surrounded with families with similar morals and values and he can get along with these kids and it’ll be great.” When we had him tested he was 4 years old. they do an entrance exam which was for me was weird at 4 years old like ‘what are you test? What do you ask him?’

Anyways, come to find out he was intellectually ready but socially, emotionally, as a 4 year old he wasn’t ready. And were on the fence about holding him back anyways so we ended up holding him back and sending him into a full-day public kindergarten and then putting him in full-day private kindergarten the following year. A

nd that first day of Catholic school he was koala-beared onto me as if he had never been to school before. It was just a torturous year. He wasn’t happy, they had me thinking something was, that he had some sort of learning disability or ADD or ADHD or something like that and somehow so I having him tested and trying to find out, you know, ‘What am I not seeing as a mom?’ Because at home that wasn’t who he was.

So we ended up finding out that he actually just has a high IQ and there’s actually no disability. But they were trying to put him into this box and he doesn’t want to be there. He was bored so he was acting out. Fast forward to mama bear finally, as a young mom going, ‘You know what? I know what’s best for my son.”

And I pulled him out of there and put him back to public school that he was in before and that Principal was amazing he said “Sandi, bring him back here; I’ve got you. Hunter is a fantastic kid and he’s going to be fine here.”

Danielle Ford: So you got lucky to have a Principal who was that cool then?

Sandi Herrera: I did and that entire school, and it was about the culture in that school. It had nothing to do with academics. And that started my passion for this work and so then being at Delivering Happiness and seeing it from the corporate workplace side it, just very quickly tapped into my passion for making our schools great places not only for educators to work, but for students to learn.

Danielle Ford: So what do you think? I’m sure this is like a huge topic. We could talk about this forever but fundamentally, what do you think is wrong with our schools that could be fixed by implementing your program?

Sandi Herrera: There are a lot of challenges in education, globally. There’s a big conversation about the foundation of education – (it) was built in the Industrial age so if that’s how we’re teaching children, we’re not preparing them for, “21st century learners” is what we say and pretty soon it’s going to be “22nd century learners”, and we really need to be thinking forward and thinking differently and allowing that creativity and that innovation to happen.

sandi herrera quote about education

And if we’re doing it in a structured system, that was built for a different era then it’s not serving our children. And so there is that side of the conversation there’s also the side of conversation that when you look at the shift in corporate culture – to be more autonomous, to be more customer-service focused, empowerment focused, company culture, happiness, overall holistic well-being as a human-focused and less punching a time clock.

Really we’re getting more productivity. There’s tons of studies out there when it comes to positive psychology and neuroscience research about when you focus on the person as a whole human you actually get so much more out of them, in terms of profitability and corporations and productivity regardless of your industry. So when you look at the program that I’ve put together with Got Core Values, I’ve combined organizational and relationships systems coaching.

So really tapping into who we are as humans, really connecting our core values, not just values we agree with, but our core values and connecting neuroscience research, connecting positive psychology, and putting all of these things together to create this program where we are focused on our schools as a workplace, and happy teachers make happy students.

Danielle Ford: This is kind of random but just when you said psychology, it’s super random so I don’t know if you’d agree with this or not; I’ve always had this thought of like people or kids are… we go to school, public school, and we say the Pledge of Allegiance every single day. And I’m not knocking that, but it creates adults who are just very American driven and American focused.

Ok, so why don’t we have some sort of pledge that we do that is the same way, during the bell, look at a flag, and say things like ‘I promise to love my friends or my brother or sister and to do my best work!’ Like, why don’t we have that? But we put so much focus on saying the Pledge, which the kids don’t even know what they’re saying like those words are so big, they have no idea what they’re saying. They are just reciting it, but it does over the course of thirteen years take a toll on their mentality and the psychology it’s almost sort of like brainwashed to love the flag. What if we’re making them love like, this type of culture? Like you’re talking about.

Sandi Herrera: I love that. And it’s fascinating when you say that, there have been a couple of teachers that have actually come up to me when I talk about the whole road map in creating their core values for their school. And infusing that common language into everything that they do, is that when they were in school and it wasn’t necessarily private school it was public as well, but they had that school theme. That part of their announcements were exactly what you’re talking about, and they still to this day, as adults, remember what it was.

Danielle Ford: That’s really interesting.

Sandi Herrera: And it was all about positivity, and it was about who are we together as human beings? And that’s what I do is, I survey the entire school community so all educators, all support professionals, all students, all parents and families, and their community partners as well, and say, ‘What are your core values? Not what are just values you agree with, but what are your core values. And we put them all together and we find the most common ones. And then we wordsmith them into these actionable and committable statements that allow them to design their culture around those values, so that every decision at the school is made rooted in the values of the entire school community.


Danielle Ford: I really love that. We were talking before about the roles that teachers play and I thought this is a little controversial but I thought it was really important how you said that so many parents are student focused. It would be like. ‘My student need this.’ and, ‘Why did you do this?’ I’m a parent, you know, and we’ve gotten through the elementary part and it is. it’s just, ‘My student didn’t get this’, ‘My student, what about these kids?’ But, what you said is that you believe that it should be more teacher focused right?

Sandi Herrera: Absolutely.

Danielle Ford: Can you talk a little more about that?

Sandi Herrera: I am such a proponent of teachers and support professionals first. If we are not putting them first, then how can they do their job to take care of the students? And there’s so much focus on students first, students first. Please, don’t stop taking care of the babies.

If we're not putting teachers first, how can they do their job to take care of the students? -SchoolSandi #education Click To Tweet

By all means keep them safe, educate them. But if you as an educator, and even the support professionals that are the glue that hold our buildings together, if they are not empowered and treated well, and able to fill their cup as a human when they show up to work every day… then how can they do their best for our students?

Danielle Ford: It like ripples down when you walk in, that very first admin person there that’s like, saying hello.

Sandi Herrera: You know the culture of the school right when you walk in.

Danielle Ford: It’s going to make a difference the way that the parents talk to that person. Or the way they position their problems, depending on if that person’s happy or not. And you can’t fake it, you have to treat them well.

Sandi Herrera: Exactly. Exactly you know every school you walk into even if they are right next door to each other – the culture is different. And the culture is the collective capacity of who everyone shows up as that day. And so if we’re focused on empowering them to show up as their best selves, then we are able to help our students achieve. And then it has a ripple effect into test scores, into overall success for education,  state-wide, district-wide.

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Danielle Ford: When somebody donates to Got Core Values, where does that money go?

Sandi Herrera: So it depends, there are different ways that they can donate. They can contribute to our overall mission and to say, “Hey Sandi this is. . . do what you do, I got you.” The other way is they can actually sponsor a school. And the average sponsorship for a school for a year is about $20,000 which includes all the surveys and the assessments that I take the leadership team through.

Danielle Ford:  That’s like amazing, a company could easily do that. People blow so much more money than that on silly things all the time. That’s really amazing. And if somebody wants to help, or even if they want to connect with you, or follow along to how your non-profit is progressing, where can they find you? And how can they reach out to you?

Sandi Herrera: You can definitely find me at anything on social media, Got Core Values. You can also find me at @SchoolSandi and my website is

Danielle Ford: I love it. Thank you so much. You guys, if you have any more questions for Sandi Herrera go ahead and put them in the comments and I will make sure that she gets them. Thank you guys so much, once again, for tuning in to another episode of Leading Las Vegas. I am Danielle Ford of and this is Sandi Herrera my wonderful, wonderful guest. We will see you in another video. Bye guys!