Dr. Paul Stuart Wichansky

   Sharing the voice and vision of courage and optimism.
Motivational and Keynote Speaker for Schools, Colleges, Companies, and Organizations.


On Friday, Manhasset Middle School hosted the absolute BEST Assembly Program I have EVER seen in 30+ years in middle school education - the ABSOLUTE BEST I tell you!

Paul Wichansky will warm the hearts of your students- he will leave EVERY single middle school child in your building with three things:

  • A smile on their face (this is Paul's main mission)

  • An intense understanding of the life of those born with different abilities

  • Finally, an appreciation for "letting everyone reach their own possibilities!"

    This Assembly, "Taking the Dis out of Disability," has truly altered the scene here at Manhasset Middle School as much as anything I have strived to do over the past two years. It fit right into my Character Education Program, but it went much further than what I could have expected. At the conclusion of Paul's presentation which he calls a "simple conversation with kids", every child in the school spontaneously stood and began a 5-minute standing ovation that sent chills of joy up my spine. What a guy Paul is! PLEASE if you want someone who will change kids hearts more in 40 minutes than anything else you do, get in touch with this absolutely charming man with a message from the heart!

    Paul's motivational program was simply "life changing." I hope [my testimonial] helps spread his valuable, valuable message. Please let Paul know I smiled ALL weekend!

    Richard McMahon, Principal
    Manhasset Middle School

    Thank you for visiting all of us at Candlewood Middle School and sharing your story. Your experiences and words of wisdom truly touched me and all of my students, as you can see from the enclosed letters.

    I do believe that there is a "plan" for all of us, and your life story is evidence that nothing can and should get in the way of your dreams. Your courage is an inspiration to all who get to meet and learn from you.

    Emily Mauro, Math Teacher
    Candlewood Middle School

    From the bottom of my heart, Dr. Paul, thank you. You gave me courage today, you gave me hope, and you made me smile again. Whenever I start to feel down about the world, it is incredibly comforting to know that people like you exist - that you are out there somewhere, taking chances and making dreams come true. I hope you know what a special person you are. There aren't too many Pauls on this planet. People like you are one in a million. But even if we can't all be Paul, we can still all be someone. And that is enough. That is more than enough. In truth, that is everything.

    Emma, 11th grader

    I can't even express how inspiring you were to me. For the past few months, I have been going through some tough times at home and with friends. Recently, I haven't even been smiling much, but since your motivational assembly, I can't stop grinning and laughing. I believe in myself so much more, and I know it's because of your speech.

    Normally, school motivational speakers are not helpful at all and are just a "waste of class time." However, I really wish I could have seen both of your assemblies because seeing it once touched me so much.

    Never stop reaching for your dreams, Paul. You are an inspiration to us all and my idol for your perseverance.

    Sarah, 10th grader

    To A Star

    You talked to my class,
    with not one moment to pass
    of uncomfortness
    Not a word did I miss.

    A smile on your face
    did indeed replace
    the dread of a lecture,
    you made it easy, for sure.

    "Don't think of what they can't do
    but what they can do.
    Everyone is different in a way."

    You taught me not to give in
    but stick to it and win.
    You are given only what you need to survive.
    I've not gotten a lot, but I'm still alive.

    You aced that test
    of being the best
    you can be.
    So you see.
    I thank you, Paul Stuart Wichansky.

    For teaching me not to be nervous
    but flawless in helping others
    no matter who they are
    and you may become a star
    in their eyes.

    Your disability didn't drag you down,
    you didn't hide
    or sneak around
    Instead, you grew stronger.

    So I thank you Paul,
    for teaching me
    that some may have a flaw
    but that flaw
    can be turned into a gift.

    Mardie, high school student.

    Our staff and students were endeared by Paul. They hung on his every word. Some audiences were more interactive than others, but it did not inhibit his program. He had a marvelous sense of humor and put his audience at ease. Lunch time was a gas! He was like the Pied Piper! One student hunted me down at the end of the day to thank me for arranging his visit. Teachers kept popping in during the program and I found out later that teachers who had heard him were going back and spreading the word to other teachers to come down. Some even offered to cover classes.

    I think I was most surprised with his ease of manner and the range of the audience he appealed to. There was not a soul there who was not touched in some way. Younger students who heard through the grapevine about Paul were disappointed that they were not going to meet him this year. Money has already been set aside for his return - how's that for a testimony!

    Paul has a gift: the ability to read his audience and adjust his style to suit their personality. He also has a message: make the best of what you have in order to be the best you can possibly be. He has an "I can" attitude - with hard work comes success. Who among us doesn't need to be reminded of these things? Who better to deliver the message than somebody who struggles daily to do the routine tasks that we take for granted?

    Laurie Schorno
    Special Education Teacher

    Hi Dr. Paul! You presented an anti-bullying assembly at my school this week. I wanted to let you know that what you said that day, I will never forget. I loved it so much, and it was extremely inspiring. One day, I hope that I will be able to give amazing speeches like you did, to help other students understand the meaning of how bullying is horrible.

    I know that I will NEVER EVER tease another person in my entire life. I just wanted to thank you for all that you did that day, because it was the best speech in all of history. I hope you come back again next year to tell that same speech to my sister. She would have LOVED to hear it, because I tried summarizing your entire speech to her, but it's not the same as really listening to you say it. Thanks again, and I hope you spread the word to many other children and change other kids lives.

    Christina, 8th grader

    Your presentation was the best! I learned a lot and feel more comfortable around disabled people. Now I know what it feels like to be disabled. I always thought that they had a horrible life, but now I know that when they think positive, they have a life as good as mine or even better.

    Steve, 5th grader

    Paul is an excellent presenter! He captivated the students with his first words and kept them intrigued until he was finished. The program helps the students overcome their own "uncomfortability" being around people with disabilities. He also shared positive messages about goal setting, hard work, and utilizing your talents!

    I believe that, after a while, the students did not notice or even care that he had a disability.

    Dana C. Folk, 3rd grade teacher

    Excellent, relevant, inspirational workshop! The best the district has ever offered. By the way, what's the deal with kids in wheelchairs wanting really fast cars?"

    God Bless You! Keep sparkling, Paul!

    Paul continues to inspire me as a speech/language pathologist and audiologist in a world where one will only focus on what a person cannot do rather than what one is able to do. I only wish that others would become inspired and truly motivated by this program. We are all a product of our environments, and Paul's parents, teachers, family, and friends are certainly special in that world. However, it is Paul who has utilized all that life has provided to give him that special talent that we all were so lucky to witness today! -- Linda Carucci Fenyar, audiologist

    One of the few times in the past 25 years of educational workshops that I left totally motivated and inspired! -- Steve Picciano

    He was great at motivating you to live out your dreams and enjoy life.

    The best presentation in my 25 years of teaching! Uplifting message.

    This program would be excellent for all students especially those with little self-esteem. Paul also shows to students the diversity we all have!

    Joyful and inspirational! I've never believed in disabled individuals, I only see and believe in uniquely abled individuals. Paul is 'uniquely abled' and a powerful voice for tolerance and understanding. -- Patricia DeMelna

    Excellent speaker who should serve as an inspiration for tired, negative educators.

    Worth every cent. I only wish our students could hear Paul!

    Paul is a fantastic speaker! Everyone should experience his workshop.

    The best speaker/workshop I have experienced since I have been at this high school.

    Very informative presentation and an overall very useful message. Shows that anyone can be anything or anyone can do anything.

    Excellent presentation! Outstanding message on how everyone should accept people, "Just The Way They Are." -- Denise Kane

    I'm speechless. I applaud Paul's energy and vision! Thank you, Paul, for following your dream. You motivate all of us and continue to make a difference. -- Susan Blankoff

    Touched every emotion with strong positive messages and hope. God Bless!

    The message within this presentation should be spread around the country. EXCELLENT!

    This man is amazing! Paul is a true inspiration. Everyone should have the honor of having him in their district.

    in-service workshop testimonials
    from teachers, principals, and school administrators

  • K-12 Schools

    Dr. Paul Wichansky hosts inspirational presentations that help his audiences find the courage, optimism, and inner strength to excel in their studies, treat their peers and teammates with respect and admiration, and be motivated to realize their own goals and dreams. The objective is to help build self-confidence and self-worth in his students while encouraging them to never underestimate their potential to succeed.

    His presentation topics for schools and youth conferences include:

    Photo of Paul Wichansky taken by Jason Towlen

    Making My Students Feel Like Champions

    Paul's sister Suzanne is a guidance counselor at an elementary school in southern Maryland. She has invited him five times in recent years to inspire students at her school as well as many of her sister schools in the county before he returns home to New Jersey.

    School assemblies are usually scheduled weeks in advance.

    Earlier this year, something amazing happened. Paul was hosting presentations at two Maryland elementary schools on consecutive days, character education for grades K-2 and anti-bullying for grades 3-5. A third school in the same district heard nothing but raves from parents and staff at the other two schools. Working against the clock, the counselor at this third school then shifted her entire school schedule around to ensure he could inspire her students *the following morning.* The assembly times were not even given to him until later that evening! He stayed at Suzanne's home an extra night.

    The day was another grand-slam. Several weeks later, he heard that the students could not stop talking about the assembly. Teachers were also using his experiences in their classroom to illustrate important lessons.

    Inspiring Youth to Succeed: School Assemblies for Teens

    Since he was ten years old, Paul has presented disability awareness, character education, anti-bullying, and leadership and resiliency programs at many elementary, middle, and high schools around the country. He enjoys sharing with students his own day-to-day experiences with humor, with two objectives in mind. First, Paul wants to help others become truly excited about themselves and what they can do with the right attitude and desire! Second, he frames the program around the positive perspectives and realities of growing up with cerebral palsy and an associated hearing impairment, helping students to bridge the gap that always seems to separate the word, "normal," from "disabled."

    He shares those experiences within his own life that have allowed him to reach a simple dream he had many years ago -- to be able to walk. The experiences and wisdom that he imparts are insightful, humorous, and lacking any trace of self-pity. Dr. Paul believes there is no better feeling in the world than to make students smile and feel good about themselves, because they can find the courage, optimism, and inner strength to excel in their studies, treat their peers and teammates with respect and admiration, and realize their own goals and dreams.

    A high-school administrator commented, "You know that students are engaged when you can hear a pin drop, when students ask pertinent questions, and when the assembly ends and students and staff gather around to shake the presenter's hand." A line of students often forms after each presentation, waiting to meet him. Some of these students are virtually in tears, so Dr. Paul takes the moment to console them while offering pearls of wisdom to help provide guidance through their own circumstances.

    Over 37 years later, Dr. Paul has since delivered over 7600 motivational programs to an estimated 1M+ children and teens, athletes in all high-school sports, parents, teachers, and school administrators. He has captivated high-school students at peer leadership conferences, motivated thousands of athletes and coaches at the Special Olympics, and inspired government representatives at the United Nations. His video emphasizes a true testament to the unrelenting power of courage and unconditional love, shared through his experiences and feelings of self-criticism, frustration, reflection, humor, joy, and, ultimately, triumph.

    His speaking resume includes keynotes at youth leadership conferences around the country, high-school seniors attending Trooper Youth Week at the New Jersey State Police Academy as well as in-service workshops for teachers and counselors that serve as educational credit towards their advanced degrees. Dr. Paul has captivated students and school administrators in twenty-one U.S. states and residents of the United Kingdom and Taiwan.

    Paul has earned a Ph.D in environmental science, under the option of atmospheric science, from Rutgers University. He was the recipient of their first annual New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Graduate Scholar award. The lead author of a book chapter in New Jersey's Environments: Past, Present, and Future, Paul describes how historical land use change in New Jersey (since the late 19th century) may have influenced its regional weather and climate. His innovative research has been published in leading scientific journals and he has received official recognition from NOAA as well as a grant from NASA for advancing our knowledge of the regional weather impacts due to documented landscape change. His doctoral research was also featured as the cover story in the New York Times. Following his successful Ph.D defense, Paul was personally congratulated by the New Jersey governor.

    Don't Hassel the Hoff: Autobiography of David HasselhoffPaul's second book contribution is beyond his wildest dreams! He has written a heartfelt thank-you note to actor David Hasselhoff. In his letter, Paul explains how the Knight Rider television series made him understand (at an early age) that each of us can be heroes - in other words, ordinary people who triumph over extraordinary circumstances - like our favorite television characters did each week. Paul's inspirational letter is now published in David's memoirs, and available in bookstores internationally. Paul's thank-you note, the only fan letter published in David's book, appears on Pages 273-278 of the United States version.

    Readers who commented his contribution to David's autobiography, including an email from The Hoff himself, is available here.

    Paul's message is simple: when we allow our imagination and our realistic possibilities to soar, we can confidently leap over some of the most overwhelming hurdles that life throws at us.

    School Assemblies and Youth Conference Keynotes

    Elementary Schools
    Taking the "Dis" out of "Disability"

    Dr. Paul emphasizes the critical issues of tolerance and respect and relates these topics to self-esteem and the development of a "Yes! I Can" attitude. By sharing his life experiences, he uses himself as an example to help inspire students to learn from their mistakes and failures, and in the process, helps them realize that success is readily available with hard work and determination. His captivating analogy that describes the long-term effects of teasing encourages students to develop compassion and an understanding of others, and in essence, learn to emulate the core ethical values as the basis of good character.

    Middle and High Schools
  • Access to Success:
    A Dream, Motivation, and a Winning Attitude!
  • His interactive presentation outlines a prescription for success which includes strategies to avoid the temptations of peer pressure while re-channeling that energy into becoming a positive peer leader. Students are taken on a journey of self-discovery through Dr. Paul's own life experiences, his humorous and insightful stories, and even a dramatic video. A Q&A session follows each program. Follow-up classroom visits are available to help stimulate discussion, student interaction with Dr. Paul, and critical thinking.
    Letters from Middle & High School Students

  • Healing the Holes of Self-Esteem
    Dr. Paul's presentation describes the memorable experiences for his success which includes strategies for dealing with peer pressure and abstaining from drug and alcohol use. In his program, Dr. Paul shares some effective strategies for "Saying No" To Drugs and highlights the dangers associated with substance abuse (drugs, tobacco, alcohol). He explains how substance use/abuse can induce low self-esteem and self-worth. This is a captivating program designed to discourage middle and high-school students from experimenting with these substances and encourage them to take care of their health as one of the hallmarks of high self-esteem and peer leadership. A Q&A session with Dr. Paul follows the program.

    Teacher/Staff Workshops

    Soaring Towards Success
    Dr. Paul's inspirational presentation will inspire and motivate school staff at any level. Participants have an opportunity to reflect on their own lives and careers, while Dr. Paul shares his own uplifting story of overcoming adversity to earn his Ph.D and become a professional speaker. During his in-service workshops, he closely interacts with his audience to share effective teaching and learning strategies for students with special needs.

    He has even inspired members of the New York Giants football team. Here, teammates Bear Pascoe (#86), Terrell Thomas (#24), and team chaplain George McGovern share a laugh with Dr. Paul. That day, he was then invited to sit with the team at a local charity fundraiser and share his insights and experiences with them.

    Dr. Paul with members of the New York Giants football team

    In the following photo, Dr. Paul poses with a winning New Jersey high-school girls varsity basketball team. He worked alongside the coaches to inspire and uplift the team before each of their home and away games during the full season. As a result of their tireless dedication, this team ranked 1st of all New Jersey high schools and also 1st in the entire Northeast region, and 8th in the United States earlier this year! We are all champions because we choose to accept opportunities to compete against others and with ourselves.

    Dr. Paul coaching a winning girls varsity basketball team

    Arts in Education Presentation
    Paul's painting

    Paul presents an interactive demonstration that gives students a chance to appreciate visual arts and encourages them to apply their creativity and a fresh perspective to everyday situations. He shares his drawings and paintings with students and explains how he was able to accomplish such masterpieces along with a physical disability. A dramatic video brings the program to a climax, where Dr. Paul even sings along with singer Billy Joel with whom he has become pen pals over the years.

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    For Additional Information

  • Shattering Stereotypes. Triumphing over Adversity. Soaring towards Success. JustTheWayYouAre.com