Making a Difference: One Student at a Time

UPDATED: May 11, 2024
PUBLISHED: August 18, 2010

It’s Monday morning at an alternative high school in Nyack, N.Y. The students start every week with the Monday Morning Breakfast Club. Principal Pamela Charles, author of A Life Interrupted: Educational Solutions for Behavioral Challenges, created the club to help the students prepare their minds for the school week.

She based the club on principles presented in SUCCESS for Teens™, distributed by the SUCCESS Foundation™. The book presents personal-development and leadership issues in a way teens relate to and understand. On Monday mornings, Charles’ students sit in groups and discuss how they can apply the success principles to their lives.

“The goal is to get the kids’ mindset ready for Monday morning,” Charles says. “Knowing our kids and our population—they needed to have a shift in their mindset to actually be ready to access curriculum.”

Since its release, SUCCESS for Teens has reached more than 1 million teenagers, primarily distributed through schools across the country. Charles says the book has been a highly effective tool for delivering a practical, interactive message that helps teenagers take responsibility for their actions, make small steps to accomplish their goals, establish positive habits and develop life-changing skills.

Charles says teaching her students that little things matter—which is the overarching philosophy of the book—is crucial to their development. “We tell kids, ‘If you miss a day a week for 40 weeks, that’s 240 hours,’ ” she says. “That’s two months of school. You see how the little things matter? It compounds.”

Charles discovered SUCCESS for Teens the same way many educators have—within the pages of SUCCESS magazine. “I was getting ready to create a curriculum over the summer and one had already been created for me,” she says. “So the first day of school, we just started it, and it’s been great.”

Each chapter of SUCCESS for Teens presents life skills or a character development topic and includes several real-life stories from teenagers who used the principles to positively affect their lives. At the end of each chapter are questions that reinforce the topics covered, as well as a section for teens to write down how they can apply the principles. A SUCCESS for Teens Facilitator’s Guide is also available.

Charles believes teaching these character-development topics is crucial. “We can continue to think we have to get kids into all the course work and not deal with the social and emotional piece,” she says, “or we can find a way to engage kids through social and emotional instruction, which we know has a direct correlation on academic performance. I have no choice. My students really need this.”

‘Get Used to Being Successful’

Charles and several other school administrators and teachers are seeing positive, life-changing results with the book.

Walk down the halls of Foothill Farms Junior High School in Sacramento, Calif., and there’s a good chance you’ll hear kids yelling at each other. But these seventh- and eighth-grade students aren’t angry—quite the opposite, in fact. They have created a saying—or cheer, actually—that goes: I am strong! I am powerful! I’ll overcome! I am a leader!

And the kids aren’t shy about it. In fact, they scream it with conviction and confidence. You’d never guess that many of these students are foster kids attending a Title 1 school, a designation by the U.S. Department of Education for schools that receive supplemental funding because of large concentrations of low-income students.

The cheer is just part of the mindset history teacher Ed Lloyd has instilled in his students. Lloyd’s focus on character education led him to SUCCESS for Teens. He knew right away the book’s content was something he had to implement. “I brought it back to our administration, and they all liked it,” he says.

Lloyd says the way the program is presented made it easy to teach to his students. “This is a character development curriculum right here,” he says. The school has since ordered more than 1,500 copies of the book, as other teachers now use it in their classes.

Lloyd’s students went through the book chapter by chapter, building on each principle. The book’s real-life stories really hit home, even prompting some students to open up and share stories about things that happened in their own lives.

Lloyd’s enthusiasm about SUCCESS for Teens has been contagious. “The kids wanted to come into class the next day because they knew we were doing one of these principles,” he says. “They couldn’t get into class and get prepared fast enough.” His classes even came up with the motto, Get used to being successful. “They walk into that classroom every day expecting to be successful.”

Lloyd and some of his students even created a film explaining how the students apply principles from the book. The film also shows several students leading classes in their cheer.

Lloyd says the book’s success principles are too effective not to work, and all teachers can find a way to implement these lessons. “A great teacher is going to find a way to teach it,” he says. “That book, put into the hands of the right teacher, is going to have a profound effect.”

Get Involved Changing Young Lives

SUCCESS for Teens has been distributed to more than 1 million teens in book and audio form thanks to generous donations to the SUCCESS Foundation. The goal is to distribute 10 million copies to teens across the country. If you’re interested in helping the SUCCESS Foundation change the lives of teens, visit to learn how you can help.