What began as an eighth-grade civics project became so much more. What was supposed to be a simple task of reading a book became a way of life, a mindset, a game changer at Rio Linda Preparatory Academy in Rio Linda, California.
As he has for many years, Ed Lloyd, the school’s social studies department chair, assigned his eighth-grade classes to read SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge, the cornerstone material of SUCCESS for Teens, a personal-development curriculum by the SUCCESS Foundation. This caused a ripple effect. The eighth-graders were inspired not only to adopt the book’s core principles, but also spread the word. Soon, they were teaching fifth- to seventh-grade students about the book during classes. Then came the murals, featuring the book’s principles that are now on display in the school’s hallways. Three or four students worked each day on them, creating nine in all.
By the end of the 2015-16 school year, every student in the school received a copy of the book, and all of the junior highs in the district and 9 other schools in the county had distributed them as well. All because of one class. (SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the e-book, facilitator’s guide and audio to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs.)
Related: SUCCESS Foundation: One Vision
“We are teaching kids to have a voice, how to debate, how to restructure their minds, question government and history; that’s what we want,” Lloyd says.
The class was honored with the district’s merit award and invited to a civic learning statewide showcase for middle and high school students at the conference center at the Sacramento County Office of Education. One of the students, Alyssa Taber, wrote a four-page essay about the experience.
“The key principles we learned about in the book would last a lifetime,” she wrote. “It amazed me to know that taking small steps toward your goals could lead you to success, and yet they can.”
The foundations of the book, according to Lloyd, and in Taber’s essay, are the eight slight edge principles: Little Things Matter, Attitude Is Everything, Use the Moment, Everything Starts with Small Steps, There’s No Such Thing as Failure, Habits Are Powerful, You’re Always Learning, and You Can Make Your Dreams Come True.
“What makes this so rewarding is that it was all student-driven. They took it on. They read the book and decided to change lives because of it—both their own and the younger kids in the grades behind them,” Lloyd says. “That’s a pretty remarkable achievement.”
To download the 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 info@SUCCESSFoundation.org.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.