The book at the core of the SUCCESS for Teens personal-development curriculum was created to provide kids with direction and inspiration.
Now SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge is doing just that for an evolving student-services program in Tucson, Ariz. Beginning last semester, the Mexican American Student Services Department (MASSD) of the Tucson Unified School District adopted SUCCESS for Teens as the official curriculum for mentoring and tutoring efforts at its K–8, middle and high schools.
Maria Figueroa, director of MASSD, heard about SUCCESS for Teens through a colleague two years ago. New to her role as director, Figueroa found the book inspiring, and she shared copies with principals and student success specialists at various district schools. She says her colleagues found the curriculum “a perfect fit” for the academically and behaviorally challenged students who receive MASSD services. (At the time, the program had no set curriculum.)
“SUCCESS for Teens is full of life’s little lessons broken down into bite-sized chunks that young people can digest and reflect on for years to come,” says Ann Littleton, a student success specialist for MASSD.
Figueroa recently succeeded in having SUCCESS for Teens approved as the official MASSD curriculum, and she estimates that more than 200 students at 10 schools will be exposed to the book this school year alone. (The SUCCESS Foundation donates hard copies of the book to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs; SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the book and facilitator’s guide to everyone.)
Figueroa believes the chapters about goal-setting and positive attitude—in which teens themselves talk about developing such skills through a simple step-by-step process—are particularly relevant for her students, who are often lacking credits to graduate or are struggling with attendance. “It makes kids reflect on their behavior and realize that maybe they’re the problem and that their attitude needs to change,” she says. “One or two students will get it right away and say, ‘You know what, I need to change.’”
Using SUCCESS for Teens in small groups has proved very effective. “They’re interacting and writing and comparing results,” Figueroa says. “They feel more comfortable hearing other kids their age having the same problems.”
Figueroa allows all students who complete the program to take home a copy of SUCCESS for Teens to continue their learning and to share the lessons with others.
“It has really been a wonderful resource for our student population,” she says.