“My Class Loves the curriculum, I even hear them use the language of Growth Mindset”

- Tina Shilling | 6th Grade Teacher, Fenton MI


The GearUp Curriculum provides guidance in creating a growth-oriented environment that develops learning and leadership skills. One half of all proceeds generated through the sale of our curriculum is donated directly to The Progeria Research Foundation to assist in the mission to cure children with Progeria.

This Curriculum will:

  1. Change students thinking about learning and success.

  2. Motivate students to believe in themselves. 

  3. Teach students the value of making mistakes.

  4. Empower students to take on challenges, resulting in higher test scores/grades.

Program Description

Sam Berns’ wildly popular TEDx Talk, My Philosophy for a Happy Life, and award-winning HBO documentary, Life According to Sam, are used throughout this curriculum as examples of how we all have the ability to learn and do anything. Sam was a high school student whose life with the illness progeria shows us, we can all create positive changes within ourselves as well as in our communities!

Teachers will use our companion website to present the lessons in our curriculum and to introduce students to Sam Berns and to the growth mindset concept, which provides the underpinning of the curriculum. The lessons are designed to build common language, common expectations, and common perspectives of growth mindset throughout the school. The curriculum consists of twelve lessons that should take approximately 10-12 class periods to teach. The curriculum is composed of the following modules:


Growth Mindset:

The belief that we can grow and better ourselves every day and that  intelligence, aptitude, and resilience are not something that are fixed at birth.  A necessary ingredient of Growth Mindset is a willingness to make the effort required for a life of learning.          


Awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. Empathy goes far beyond sympathy, which might be considered ‘feeling for’ someone. Empathy, instead, is ‘feeling with’ that person, through the use of imagination.   


Doing what’s required to achieve our goals. Sam did not use his Progeria as an excuse for inaction. Instead, he overcame barriers and was an active leader at school and in his community. 


The willingness to take on and fulfill obligations that contribute to the betterment of our community as well as ourselves.

Each GEAR will be defined and explained through real life examples, as well as discussed and practiced by students through various activities. When used together, these components provide the GEARs that will start the process of building true leaders.