Jessica Ussher

Investigative Journalist

MURRIETA — “What breaks your heart makes your heart” is a quote taken by author, poet, educator activist and husband John Broussard. Here, he highlights where passion intersects with action, delineating the genesis of the pursuit of life’s choices. In other words, whatever your heart breaks for tends to be exactly what your heart invests in. A personal yet humanitarian commitment. In the case of Broussard, building student-teacher relationships based on empathy, self-reflection and the affordance of grace is the basis of his organization 3030 Publishing, a company that is dedicated to helping teachers become their best, and educate through activism with purpose.

Founded in 2021, 3030 Publishing reflects Broussard’s own journey of self-discovery. Touching broadly on the highs and lows of his life, Broussard quoted Marilyn Lee Angle who said, “the greatest thing about getting older is that we’ll never lose all the other ages we’ve ever been.” Expanding on this, Broussard emphasized that “all those ages are still everything that I’ve lived, I still am all those ages, I’m still all those experiences……. And fast forward through my experiences from early childhood to high school years to college, I have all those experiences still bottled up inside of me. I hate to say whether it’s a complete blessing or burden, but it’s a blessing that now I can carry.”

Out of Broussard’s life experiences flows a compelling duty to equip teachers with the tools to professionally discover who they really are. “When you discover and understand who you are, you are able to be empathetic,” said Broussard. Training teachers to teach emphatically thus repurposes their self-understanding as a powerful pedagogical tool.

When asked more specifically about poignant moments of self-discovery, Broussard drew from his poem titled ‘Mandela’. It walks the listener through his life, highlighting the tug of war between beauty and struggle. Underlying each of the poem’s words is the concept of ‘perseverance’, which reaches full manifestation at the poem’s close. Broussard recited that “there’s beauty in struggle. There’s flowers in rain. The Mandela we know came from hours of pain. I was birthed in it all. I came from hours of pain. I came from buckets of tears. I came from trauma inside. I didn’t cry for years. I came from therapy sessions…..I closed inside. It’s like I built me a fort. I just hid from it all. A young boy’s retort. It’s just the price that I paid for my Mandela’s report.”

Broussard’s poem ‘Mandela’ captures life’s complications and the emotions humans experience navigating through trauma – especially in the formative years. He highlights that all parts of life are interconnected and inseparable and have a domino effect of sorts. Continuing, Broussard drew reference to the many young students who he has had the pleasure of working with. He recognized that he could relate deeply to countless students, and identified with their personal pressures that impacted their educational experience. “I see the trials and things that they go through, I see myself in every smile and every cry. I see myself in them because it’s as if I’m still living those same experiences……it’s also a beautiful thing because you’re able to be a light, and sometimes when young people can’t walk, you can walk for them through those seasons.”

Author John Broussard released the book, “Letters from an Educator: The Child You Didn’t See” in 2022. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Seemingly, how a student responds to what is happening inside a classroom is inextricably linked to what they experience outside of it. Social and personal experiences inform the academic experiences of all students, and through Broussard’s time training teachers, it appears that this could be an educational blind spot. Broussard chose an Aristotle quote to make the point clearer, “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” In order to educate the heart, educators are tasked with connecting with the hearts of their students and this, as Broussard argues, can only be done through empathy and self-understanding.

Teachers must account for the unseen and recognize that “some students don’t have the heart to learn anything that is being taught. People screaming in their direction in frustration wondering why a low performing student can’t meet the standard that we set that everyone else appears to be reaching isn’t the answer.” Broussard continued stating that for him he “realized emotionally there were invisible storms that I was facing that could not be seen, nor necessarily did they [ teachers] make concessions for.” His story is the powerful rationale behind 3030 Publishing’s chosen teaching philosophy ‘Social Emotional Learning.’

The tenants of Social Emotional Learning are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. This is the framework Broussard uses to teach educators the power of interpersonal communication and the formation of classroom relationships. Broussard explained that “academic and scholastic standards are not my reason for entering education.” He continued, this time drawing from another famous quote, by Jim Carey who said. “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” By juxtaposing Jim Carey with the earlier Aristotle reference, Broussard shows that both quotes point towards the same sentiment. “Whatever scholastic knowledge you obtained has allowed you to achieve whatever you have, and now that you’ve achieved it, you’re going to realize this really isn’t it. They’re both talking about something deeper, something more valuable, something of purpose,” said Broussard.

3030 Publishing helps teachers move beyond ‘why’ they want to teach and equips them with ‘how’ they can teach personally and impactfully. “I describe myself as a child activist” said Broussard, “it’s not something I hear often, but what I mean by that is that teachers are not solely teachers, if you ask most educators, they’re going to say, I want young people to realize the full potential of who they are – to do that, you’re going to need to be an activist.”

The beauty of the training events run by 3030 publishing is that it seeks to reaffirm the goals of all teachers. Furthermore, teachers have been extremely receptive to the professional development they have received from 3030 Publishing. Sharing the feedback received from a training event, Broussard recalled that “one teacher said this is the best professional development that she’s been a part of in 30 years, and another one was in tears as she was telling me my words and the poems I used within my keynotes meant so much.” Through the training events, Broussard does not seek to change the end goal for teachers, rather, he aims to influence the way they drive their vehicle forward.

Closing the interview, Brossard stated that “it’s intentional for me to disarm what education is saying about diversity, about equity, because people try to politicize it. People try to politicize these agendas within education. Sometimes, people are turned off by that. Education is about relationships. At the end of the day, it’s about that quote from James Comer. ‘No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship’. At the end of the day, it’s about empathy, at the end of the day this is why we go into our profession.”

The interview with John Broussard displayed why he is indeed a dazzling example of Black excellence. In many ways, he uses his life’s work to respond to a humanitarian need, the need to be seen and the need to be heard. He sets an impeccable example for upcoming young black men, but beyond that, gives hope to the pockets of humanity nestled in classrooms. Through the work of 3030 publishing, he raises an army to reach the many students who are in need of genuine care, and genuine empathy.

John Broussard’s latest book “Diary of a Poet ” will be released on Feb. 24 at a poetry night event. The event will be held at Rival Coffee, Murrieta. Details can be found at

Jessica Ussher