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Speaker uses family, elf, and goats as lesson

December 1, 2011
By Kathleen Palumbo
Although adept at capturing the attention of a wide range of children from middle through high school and well into adulthood, David Kohut recently found himself up against the toughest audience of all: kindergarten through fourth grade students. Kohut serves as executive director of Talk is Cheap, Inc., an organization that helps build student confidence and character.

His approach was simple for the students. He spoke to them about his own family, and included “Buddy the elf,” and mountain goats.

He told them they had much to be thankful for, encouraged them to take the time to thank a teacher before leaving school for their Thanksgiving holiday, and shared with them the very things he holds most dear -- his wife of 27 years and two grown children. It would be remiss not to mention that he included humorous photos of himself with a much more generous hairline.

Kohut shared with the students of Hilltop Elementary School that there might be times in their lives when they will feel like giving up, telling them, “You’re going to need each other ... your teachers, your friends.”

“I’m the first to admit I don’t always listen and I do make mistakes,” said Kohut.

Capturing the attention of our youth for more than 20 years, Kohut uses his gift of public speaking, and is always eager to share that he would rather build strong kids than rebuild men and women.

Topics on which Kohut spoke included character and self-esteem building, purpose motivation and encouragement. Through Talk is Cheap, he addresses the issues of teen violence, bullying and suicide, and offers drug and alcohol awareness programs. He also serves as a youth and adult conference speaker, offering staff and administration in-services, retreats, seminars and church programs.

In addition to countless area schools, both public and private, Kohut has spoken at venues that include the Coast Guard Academy, United States Military Academy at West Point, Youngstown State, the Ohio State University football team, and Wooster College, with his message over 23 years of leadership training and teaching extending beyond our youth, to the staff, and academic leaders to whom they look for direction and guidance.

He shared that his vision for Talk is Cheap includes seeing his programming in every state across the country. Additional information can be found on his website at

Kohut left his Hilltop Elementary School audience with four things to remember. He drove home the importance of listening, never giving up, trying even if it’s hard, and being grateful for everything you have.

Following a round of silent “raise the roof” Hilltopper style applause, the classes began to leave the school’s gymnasium. One student, eager to get started on the advice approached him.

“Mr. Kohut,” he said, “Thank you ... and never give up.”

Article Photos

Photos by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
While recently addressing the kindergarten through fourth grade students of Hilltop Elementary School, David Kohut, executive director of Talk is Cheap, Inc., got down to their level. Talk is Cheap is a nonprofit organization that, according to its website, holds the specific purpose of building character, establishing confidence, and providing hope in the lives of young people everywhere.



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