For most high school students, summer vacation means, as the old rhyme goes, No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks. Well, maybe one book, that being SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge, which Darlene Winkler used as the focal point of her leadership class this past summer. The book is the cornerstone of SUCCESS for Teens, a personal-development curriculum by the SUCCESS Foundation.
In three-hour sessions, twice a week for a month, students from four area high schools voluntarily met in Roseland, New Jersey. As the students read more of the book and grew comfortable with one another, they shared personal experiences. (SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the e-book, facilitator’s guide and audio to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs.)
“There was so much maturity in such a short time period. The students really took ownership of their lives,” Winkler says. “By the end, each of them was setting goals and talking about these big dreams. Some of them didn’t even have dreams when we started the class.”
One of the girls in the class, entering her senior year, mapped out a plan taking her through college, including a goal of increasing her SAT scores and applying at better schools. All of the students were using whiteboards and sticky notes to write down and track goals at home. Each also signed up for a club or an internship at their respective high school.
“They were thinking about life in ways they never had before; they were discovering what leadership really meant, how they could make a difference in their community, rather than just kind of going through the motions,” Winkler says. “The more we read and covered in the book, you could see the excitement in their eyes when class began, they couldn’t wait to share. They really dug deeply inside themselves, and talked about their own failures and how they were going to turn them into successes going forward.” But the students weren’t the only ones benefiting from the class.
“It was good for me, too,” she adds. “It made me more motivated to do more. The principles taught in the book as adults, we know most of them, but maybe we don’t practice them. So, to read the book again, and see how these students changed their lives, that was inspiring.”
To download the SUCCESS for Teens e-book, learn about the program, share your story about it or make a contribution, visit SUCCESSFoundation.org. Leaders, participants and donors can request a profile in SUCCESS by emailing [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.