The Inspiration behind Kimochis

Nina Rappaport Rowan

“There are very specific moments in one’s life when an event can change the way you look at the world,” says Creator and Founder, Nina Rappaport Rowan.

“For me, that moment was the unthinkable and haunting Columbine High School incident. I asked myself, ‘Why did this happen? What are we doing wrong? How can our children be so disconnected and self-destructive? And what can I do about it?”

This inspiration led Nina to create Kimochis.

Nina, a family entertainment professional and executive producer of Despicable Me, knew that kids respond to characters and stories, so she reached out to her friend in children’s publishing, Susan Greenwood Schroeder.

Susan grew up in a community where a 15 year-old girl was killed by another teen girl. Bullying and social competition were parts of the tragic story.

Because her own daughter had just started school when Nina shared her idea, Susan was able to imagine how Kimochis in schools could help kids learn how to communicate and connect with peers even through difficult and emotionally charged situations.

So, Susan reached out to the magical communication expert who regularly visited her daughter’s elementary school, Ellen Pritchard Dodge.

Susan Greenwood Schroeder

Ellen Pritchard Dodge M.Ed CCC-SLP

For over 35 years, Ellen, a pioneering speech-language pathologist, was getting out of her office and teaching communication skills to more than just the children on her caseload. She knew that feelings fuel behaviors. And, she saw first-hand that teaching basic communication skills helped children express challenging feelings which, as a result, eliminated a lot of negative behaviors—throughout entire schools. When Ellen started working with Kimochis as the Educational Director and curriculum author, the dream of helping children and families, grew to encompass entire school districts, communities…our world.

Ellen is an internationally recognized leader in program development and training in the areas of speech-language pathology, character education, and parent education. She has published numerous books and articles about the importance of teaching social-emotional learning to children.

Ellen believes the key to happiness, wellness, and life success lies in one’s ability to effectively and kindly communicate ideas and feelings. Ellen was awarded a National Charter Education award for her 35-year contribution to communication curriculum and extensive work in public schools throughout the country. Ellen presents globally on communication skills/development and infuses her public speaking appearances with her passion for raising children’s social and emotional intelligence. She applies her interactive workshop style, personal and professional experience and effective communication strategies to educate children and adults alike. People leave her presentations knowing that you can have fun with and manage feelings, even the hard ones. Her mantra is ‘Everyone makes mistakes with communication so you can use your brave and take a re-do.’

Ellen has been the Educational Director, head of curriculum development and lead trainer for Kimochis ® since 2008. Ellen is also the lead trainer on a 5-year Kimochis contract for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) awarded in 2014. The program provides training and support materials to Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS). In 2018, the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association bestowed its highest honor on Ellen, the Honors of the Association, for her significant contribution to the field of speech and language pathology and to the CSHA itself. In 2013, Ellen served on Parenting magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board. Ellen has also created academically and socially engaging classrooms for boys through the Supporting Our Sons organization. This work was done in collaboration with Dr. William Pollack, author of Real Boys.

Ellen is the mother of three daughters and lives in Northern California, but she treasures her Midwestern roots and her large extended family in Chicago. She identifies most with Kimochis Huggtopus with her exuberant love for people that sometimes needs to be regulated as her hug can be too snug!