HOOKED ON SUCCESS: Helping Students Discover Passion & Purpose In Life


[semester equivalent = 2.00 credits]



Mario Reaves



Without passion and sense of purpose, too many youth drift in life and school, falling short of their potential and becoming susceptible to drugs and alcohol, as well as academic underperformance. Educators in this course will learn how to use a proven program that engages students in grades 4-12 with what’s important for them, and helps prevent adolescent drug and alcohol abuse. Teachers show students a variety of short videos highlighting successful celebrities and cultural influencers from many different fields. These adults share their stories and speak powerfully about how they found direction in life—how they found a Natural High, which is the name of the program. Videos are supported by curriculum that guides discussion, provides students with opportunities for reflection,  and concludes with a variety of activities that take students deeper into the subject.

All materials are found online at no additional cost. Outcomes from the Natural High program are aligned with Common Core and the National Health Educator Standards. While the Natural High program continues to be rated highly as a drug prevention program, its premise of finding and leading a meaningful life applies to all youth. Natural High has helped millions of students since its inception twenty-five years ago. Course is appropriate for educators of students in grades 4-12, counselors, psychologists, and intervention specialists.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. An understanding of the foundation & history of Natural High and its founder Mr. Jon Sundt.
  2. An understanding of the importance of helping students find a Natural High at a young age.
  3. An understanding of Natural High’s 6 principles and the research behind them.
  4. An understanding of how to use Natural Highs curriculum via the three step teaching process.
  5. An understanding of the science and research that supports the Natural High curriculum.
  6. Learned how to customize their own lesson plans from an established selection of storytelling videos and Common Core curriculum and activities that align with the subject(s) that they teach!
  7. An understanding of the relationship between Natural High’s curriculum and the CDC’s National Health Education Standards.
  8. An understanding of the relationship between Natural High’s curriculum and the CDC’s Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit. The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit.

The use of artificial intelligence is not permitted. Assignment responses found to be generated by AI will not be accepted.

Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participants their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, or Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours, Oregon PDUs, and Pennsylvania ACT 48 Hours.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering, determine with your district personnel, department head, or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



None.  All reading is online.

None. All reading is online.





Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. 
Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 

Assignment #1: COURSE FORUM: Introduction

Introduce yourself by explaining how long have you been working with students and in what capacity.  Discuss the social and economic make up of your school/district.  Please explain what led you to choose this course as well as what you are hoping to take back into your classroom and school district.?

Assignment #2: COURSE FORUM: The Story

Before you can access all of the video and curriculum information you will first need to sign up on Natural Highs website.  It just takes a few seconds and it's free!  First go to , then at the far top right side of the page press the orange Registration button.  From there you will register your name and brief education information.  After registering, you will have full access to all of Natural High's curriculum and videos. 

  • Read the following article and then share in 200+ words how you are currently using some of these techniques to promote passion based learning in your class. Also share your view of what you feel happens to students that do find something to be passionate about in life vs. not becoming passionate about anything.

Watch and listen to the following video's and then answer the questions below.



 Share your thoughts in 500 +  words about the following:

  • The first video, describe your concern for this person as if he were a student in your class, a friend or a family member.  In the video he mentions that he does not feel that he has found a "passion" yet.  Explain why you feel it would be important for all young kids to find something they are passionate about.
  • What happened to Jon's two younger brothers, Eric and Steve? Why do you feel Jon's brothers needed to, "fit in?"
  • What are some examples that you have found where the media makes drugs and alcohol look cool to our kids?
  • Describe any youth you know who come from otherwise good families and yet through bad peer influence got dragged down by substance abuse.

Assignment #3: COURSE FORUM: The Six Principles

Read all the information from the "Our Approach"  tab.  In this assignment you will become familiar with the preventative factors, what Natural High calls the Six Principles:
Respond to the questions posed below in 500+words

     Read the “Iceland Study”,                  
    and share what evidence in the article stood out to you and why? Also, what aspects of the                  
    “Iceland Study” model do you feel can be adopted in communities across the United States.
     From your educational experience share a memory where you have witnessed peer influence                 
    among students, in regards to “peer influence, in both positive and negative ways.
    Cite a student case that you have experienced that was successful because of the mentor and                  
    supportive relationships that were provided for that student.
    After reading the article, “Growth Mindset Works” by Carol Dweck,             , share your thoughts on how this concept is essential                  
    and how this information can assist you in the work that you already do in helping youth to learn                  
    and improve their skills through effort and persistence.
     After watching Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk on “Grit”,

  • Share your thoughts on the correlation between having “Grit” and achieving long and short term goals?
    Duckworth also mentions “How little we know and how little science knows about how to build “Grit”.                  
    How do you see Natural High’s story tellers and curriculum as a way to help students to build and                  
     develop “Grit”?
    Share a time when you were between the grades of 5 & 12 where you faced a significant                  
    challenge and you were able to overcome it. Did you overcome that obstacle by yourself or did                  
    you have help? If you did receive help, who helped you and how did they help? If you felt that you                  
    overcame the challenge on your own, explain how you were able to do it?


To help you better understand how Natural High’s curriculum and storytelling videos work, you will go through the 3-step process as if you were a student in your classroom. You will not be expected to actually do step #3, the activity(s) that goes with that video but instead review that step to understand how the 3 step process works. 

Assignment - Watch 3 videos of your choice from the Natural High website and go through the 3-step process, for each one: 
1. Watch the video. 
2. Review and answer the discussion questions. 
3. Review the “Activity'(s) listed" for each video. For chosen video's that have more than one listed activity, share which one you would prefer to use first with your class and why. 


Assignment #5: COURSE FORUM: The Blog

The Blog tab on Natural High's website offers Inspiring and informational blogs.  For this assignment you will review the blogs then share in 250 - 300 words which blog or a combination of blogs stood out and inspired you the most and why?  

Assignment #6: COURSE FORUM: Case Studies

To answer this assignment you do not need to log into the Natural High website.  Instead, select the Educators Tab on the opening website page.  From there scroll down to the "Natural High in Action" section and review the case studies.  When you are finished reading all of them, share in 200-250 words the case study(s} that appealed to you most and why.  Also explain how you could start a similar program in your school or community to help engage students and community members in the Natural High program. 




In this section, you will apply your learning to your professional situation. This course assumes that most participants are classroom teachers who have access to students. If you do not have a classroom available to you, please contact the instructor for course modifications. Assignments done in a course forum will show responses from all educators who have or are taking the course independently. ​Feel free to read and respond to others' comments. Group participants can only view and respond to their group members in the Forum. 


Assignment #7: COURSE FORUM: Lesson Plan Prep

On a chart or mind-map, you will complete the following and submit to your instructor:

1. Organize your own lesson plans by choosing 5-7 story tellers videos, the accompanying discussion questions, as well as the dig deeper  activities or you can choose from the Play List on your Dash Board Page. To assist you further with your lesson plan prep, you can refer to the scope and sequence page which is located under "Core Curriculum" from the Educators Tab on Natural High's introduction webpage prior to logging in.

2. List which videos you chose for your students to watch and why you choose them?

3. Create a time-line that you plan to teach the lessons.

4. Develop a survey for students to complete after they finished each lessons.

Assignment #8: COURSE FORUM: Create & Submit Lesson Plan

Now that you are familiar with how Natural High’s curriculum works, 

Assignment # 8-A

  • Choose any of your 5-7 lesson plans and implement that first one with your students.
  • Write a 1-2 page paper that summarizes how well your first lesson went and how your students responded.
  • Create a journal for yourself that you will use to keep track of how many different Natural Highs your students have.
  • Submit 1-2 samples of student work that you graded using your rubric.
  • Submit 2-3 student surveys that you feel were meaningful to you!
  • Share your lesson plan in the Lesson Plan Library via the Lesson Plan tab below. 
  • You may download a copy of THI's lesson plan template here.


Assignment # 8-B:

Use this option if you do not have a classroom available.

  • Adapt/create a lesson to reflect what you’ve learned in this course. (Do not implement it.)
  • Write a 500+ word article concerning any noteworthy success you’ve had as a teacher with one or more students.
  • Please refer to the guidelines for our blog What Works: Teaching at its Best prior to writing your article.
  • When you submit your article to your instructor, please also email a copy to Yvonne Hall THI blog curator and media specialist.
  • Indicate whether or not you are OK with having your article considered for publishing on our website. 
  • Submit your article to your instructor via Response field and the modified lesson via Submit Lesson.  
  • As you submit your lesson, consider sharing it with other teachers taking our courses by checking the lesson library box.


Looking back at your own junior high and high school years compared to today, in 300-500 words describe what you feel is the difference between how schools helped students to understand the dangers of drugs and alcohol compared to what your school and district currently have in place today.  Describe how Natural High’s curriculum is different and how it compares and contrast from past to current intervention programs. 

Assignment #10: (500 Level ONLY)

Option A)
Create a video or power point presentation for your building staff, district staff and or your school board explaining what the Natural High program is, as   well as the  benefits you have witnessed as a result of teaching the curriculum.


Option B)   
Create a letter to your parents to that will let them know about the Natural High program and curriculum that you are using in the classroom.  Make sure that the letter is not only informative but invite the parents to preview the program themselves by including the website, 


Option C)   
Search for and summarize the key points to one or more articles on the importance of positive role modeling for youth.  Describe as well an experience of the effects of positive role modeling from your time as an educator.


Option D)   
An assignment option of your own choice with the instructor's prior approval.


Assignment #11: (Required for 400 and 500 level)

(Please do not write this paper until you've completed all of your other assignments)

Write a 400-500 word Integration Paper answering these 5 questions:

  1. What did you learn vs. what you expected to learn from this course?
  2. What aspects of the course were most helpful and why?
  3. What further knowledge and skills in this general area do you feel you need?
  4. How, when and where will you use what you have learned?
  5. How and with what other school or community members might you share what you learned?


Instructors will comment on each assignment. If you do not hear from the instructor within a few days of posting your assignment, please get in touch with them immediately.


Mario Reaves, M.Ed. ESA, received his Masters Degree in Education from City University Seattle, Washington.  He received his BA from Central Washington University.  He has worked for the past 29 years as a public school counselor in the state of Washington.  Mario currently works for the Clover Park School District.  Mario served as a Professional Education Board member for City University of Seattle.  He has been recognized locally and nationally for the proactive work that he does with students, teachers and his surrounding community.  In 2011 Mario was named Natural High’s national Educator of the year.  Mario’s passion is to motivate both students and staff to be their best.  He has logged over 5000 hours of classroom instruction time teaching from a comprehensive counseling curriculum.  His favorite, he admits, is Natural High’s curriculum.  For 10 years, Mario was a district trainer for staff certification on how to de-escalate agitated and aggressive students.  Mario is also a state certified mediator.  Mario coached at the high school level for 15 years in football, basketball and baseball.  In 2001 Mario was named Washington State coach of the year in the 2A Nisqually League. Prior to working in Education, Mario worked for 16 years for Washington State’s largest mental institution.  As an Institutional Counselor he helped take care of many patients who were there because of drug abuse.

When not motivating others, Mario’s Natural Highs are Family, Fishing, Golf and Singing.


HOOKED ON SUCCESS: Helping Students Discover Passion & Purpose In Life

1.   Sundt, Jon. "Founders Story"., YouTube, 7 Oct.2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2018.

2.   Young, Author: Emma, et al. “Iceland Knows How to Stop Teen Substance Abuse but the Rest of the World Isn’t Listening.” Mosaic, 17, Jan. 2017.

3.   Decades of Scientific Research That Started a Growth Mindset Revolution.” The Growth Mindset – What Is Growth Mindset – Mindset Works.

4.   Duckworth, Angela Lee. "Grit".,, TedTalks,             9 May. 2013.  16 Apr.2018.

5.   Bleu, Corbin. "Corbin Bleu – Actor, Dancer & Performer", YouTube, 5 Sept. 2014. Web. 16,Apr. 2018

6.   Bernardo, Wuv & Sandoval, " Wuv Bernardo & Sonny Sandoval – Members of P.O.D", YouTube, 24, Jan. 2018

7.   Hensen, Darrin, "Darrin Henson – Choreographer", YouTube. 20 Aug. 2013

8.   Harrison, Queen, "Queen Harrison – World Champion Hurdler & Sprinter", YouTube. 28 Sept. 2015

9.   Hamilton, Bethany, "Bethany Hamilton – Pro Surfer, Author of ‘Soul Surfer", YouTube. 7 Oct. 2013

10. Gallery, Jaiden, "Jaiden Gallery-2017 Winner", 2017

11. Nhi Huynh, Van, "Van Nhi Huynh 2016 Winner", YouTube. 6 Jun. 2016

12. Jivani, Sanah, "Sanah Jivani 2015 Winner", 2015

13. Common Core State Standards,, 2018

14. CDC National Health Education Standards 1-8,, 2018

15. Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum,, 2018

16. Rivera, Angel, "I feel like I don't have any goals", YouTube, 29 Mar. 2013

17. TeachToughStaff, Teachthought, wegrow teachers. 2 May,        2018.