FAIRMONT - Savannah Moler admits she can come across as "brash" or "direct." But through several challenges in her life, she has learned how to balance her approach. She credits Top 20 training.
"There's a line between being direct and being rude," she said. "It's finding that balance, and controlling my emotions so I could communicate appropriately. Having a young person, it's something that's developed and I continue to use because it works."
Moler learned some lessons the hard way. She was a participant and graduate from the Martin-Faribault-Jackson County drug court, and afterward she became concerned for her young child.
While Moler studied child psychology in college in the past, it was through some of the Early Childhood Initiative classes that she began learning about emotional intelligence, or emotional IQ.
"Emotional intelligence is the self-awareness, the empathy for others," she said. "Not only do you grow within yourself, but you're also growing your relationships, and there's more effective communication ... Not only did it make a lot of sense, but having a child, it's helping my child recognize these things."
"It's not talked about a lot, the emotional intelligence," added Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma. "But it's just as important as the IQ, maybe even more."
Moler attended the first Top 20 meeting for parents in November, and was impressed enough to take it up as a cause.
"It teaches a better way of thinking and learning communication," she said. "With the emotional intelligence, you form better relationships and I think it's important for everyone to have the opportunity to learn these skills ... I'm trying to bridge the gap, because this is for everybody, so I'm reaching out and getting people to come."
Moler has reached out to people she knew in drug court to get the information out.
"I like being able to meet with people face to face," she said. "One of the biggest things I get from friends is I tell them about it, and then they say, 'And then what?' That's why I've been very involved in gaining more information so I can use it and I want others to feel the same. The ECFE has started a Top 20 book study, and that's exciting to see that."
Moler and Brolsma describe an encounter between the two of them that began negatively, but because of Moler's learned ability to effectively communicate, turned in a very different direction.
"I came in as a cop," Brolsma recalled.
"He was going to ream me," Moler added, prompting chuckles from both.
"But after I said my part, she looked at me and said, 'I understand.' And it kind of threw me," Brolsma said. "So we started talking more, and we ended up making this connection. That was how she got involved with working with us on the Top 20."
Both realize Top 20 training is just a starting point, but that it can work wonders when applied.
"It's not the 'be all and end all,'" Brolsma said. "But it is something a number of people have committed to. It's kind of like drug court when it started; it was so new but there were high hopes that it would take root in the community."
"It needs to be a personal motivation," Moler agreed. "I like being a part of something that's not just self-serving after everything that I've taken from this community. I've had to learn things the hard way, but I've learned."