In the Sheffield Middle School classroom of Kimberly Sweigart, daydreaming is a no-no—but dreaming big is a must.
That’s because the work and family life teacher has her eighth-grade students create dream boards as the culmination of completing SUCCESS for Teens, a free personal development curriculum by the SUCCESS Foundation.
“In the last chapter of SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge, students are asked to answer several questions about their future,” says the Sheffield, Ohio, teacher. “Students elaborate on these ideas by creating dream boards, depicting what they want in their futures: houses, cars, families, colleges, careers. They present the boards to class, and then they post them in the hallways so that other students get to see their dreams.”
Since discovering SUCCESS for Teens through an online search three years ago, Sweigart has been using the curriculum as a three-week introduction to her class at the beginning of each semester. (The SUCCESS Foundation donates hard copies of the book—which teaches skills like goal-setting and resisting peer pressure with easy, manageable steps—to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs; SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the book and facilitator’s guide to everyone.)
“SUCCESS for Teens is a perfect fit,” she says. “It allows students of all ability levels to participate, and it’s available online for any students who are absent for a day or two.”
Sweigart alternates among having students read passages aloud, read independently and listen to the audio recording. Whenever important information or unfamiliar subjects arise, Sweigart leads a class discussion to facilitate an exchange of ideas and ensure comprehension. At the end of each chapter, students spend time in class and at home answering workbook questions.
Some students are skeptical about reading yet another book, Sweigart says, but many wind up thanking her for the experience. One of those students is Hannah Giusti, a ninth-grader (as of press time) at Brookside High School in Sheffield Lake.
“SUCCESS for Teens showed me that anyone can be successful in life. You need a solid set of morals, values and beliefs,” Hannah says. “However, these things can only carry you so far. Whatever it may be—from writing a term paper to graduating high school or becoming a professional athlete—you have to make the best decision for yourself and for your dream.”
Having witnessed students improve not only academically but socially thanks to SUCCESS for Teens, Sweigart says she will continue sharing it with teens, including her own family members, for years to come.
“Students who have gone through this curriculum seem better prepared for high school and tend to be more willing to plan for their future education and career goals than those who have not read the book. SUCCESS for Teens has a tremendous impact on those who participate in what it has to offer.”