About the Researcher and the Project

In, 2013, I received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Florida, where I also minored in Mass Communications. Right out of undergrad, I was hired to teach 9th grade English in Boca Raton, Florida.During my second year of teaching, I worked closely with Jill Pavich and Stacey Lederberg to implement the new AP Capstone program at Boca Raton High School. Working with Jill was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today without her guidance. During my third year of teaching, I met and fell in love with my intelligent and beautiful wife, Amanda, and her hilarious daughter, Ember. Amanda and I were married in the summer of 2016, and our son, Leonardo, was born in November of 2016. It has certainly been an amazing ride these past few years!


Jill has moved on to bigger and better things since we first implemented the AP Capstone program at Boca High, but Stacey and I have worked together for the past two years to develop our curriculum for AP Research, which is the course students take during the second year of the Capstone Program. One of the course objectives in AP Research is to help the students think about multiple perspectives on issues rather than just thinking about the world as black and white. Last October, I finally got fed up with simply teaching research and decided I wanted to conduct some of my own. After a brief brainstorm about possible research topics, I finally settled on researching ways to increase my own happiness and the happiness of my wife and children. I have always thought I was good at helping people in pain find ways to feel better, but I wanted to see if there were more fleshed out approaches to happiness. I felt like focusing on happiness was probably one of the most useful endeavors I could undertake.


I told Stacey about the idea of researching happiness, and the two of us both started to gather journal articles and books we thought would be interesting to read. The goal in those early days was to try to write a book about happiness together. I was pretty serious about my daily research at first, but the birth of my son in late November led me to completely stop researching. I jokingly told my wife I didn’t have to do any more research because I had found happiness and his name was Leonardo Jude Kirk!

It was probably during the 1st week of January when I decided to get back into my happiness research. I began researching again in earnest, and I quickly discovered I was still very much interested in the idea of defining happiness and figuring out how other cultures and researchers have defined it.


I am planning to use this website as my own version of an online research log. I don’t know where my research will take me or how it will change me. At some point in the near future, Stacey and I may start a podcast about our research together. Maybe one day we will write that book about happiness and our journey to discover how people define it and try to achieve it. Stacey’s research endeavors have already led her to create her own small business to help teach young children the benefits of yoga and mindfulness.


I am hoping this research endeavor will resonate with any readers who happen to stumble across this website. It is definitely exciting for me to think about this website becoming a place where people help each other improve their own lives and the lives of those around them. I would like to invite every single reader to come join me on this quest. Together, we can all attempt to discover the truth about happiness, or at least a potential truth. Honestly, if this website only makes a single person’s life even a little bit better than it was worth it. There is an Emily Dickinson poem that has always stuck in my mind:

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain.


I think that poem is beautiful because it is truly representative of the idea that we are all immortal because we will all leave behind a legacy after our deaths. I hope my loved ones will always remember me fondly, and even my acquaintances will describe me as a positive person who always tried to put the breath back into people rather than taking the breath out of them. Frederick Buechner has a quote in The Hungering Dark: “The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.” That quote has always made me pause and think about my actions. I don’t want to be a catalyst for pain in this world. There are enough of those. I believe each of us has the power to make our world a more peaceful and happier place, and it is my sincere hope that this website can become a place where people can recharge and be reinvigorated to keep being forces for good in this world. Let’s share our stories and help encourage one another. I will share my thoughts about the books and research articles I am reading, and I would love it if other people decided to share their thoughts about anything they have read or are currently reading. There is a way for all of us to help each other live happier, more peaceful lives. Let’s start researching happiness together!