When adults speak, children only listen so much. But when other kids talk—especially about important life issues—their peers are all ears.
Edwin Lloyd experienced this firsthand at Rio Linda Preparatory Academy in Rio Linda, Calif., where he teaches U.S. history and serves as the social studies department chair. As part of a school civics project, Lloyd recently introduced his eighth-grade classes to the SUCCESS for Teens personal development curriculum created by the SUCCESS Foundation.
After three days of studying and discussing SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge, the centerpiece of the SUCCESS for Teens curriculum, Lloyd asked sixth-grade teacher Sharon Glover to bring her students into his classroom so his students could share what they learned with the younger kids.
The eighth-graders “taught the younger students what it means to them to be successful and how they, the younger students, can avoid many of the pitfalls they themselves experienced,” Lloyd says.
Groups of three or four eighth-graders each tackled one of the principles from the book, in which actual teens discuss topics such as setting goals and handling peer pressure. The chapters (each followed by interactive exercises) that resonated most were “Attitude Is Everything,” “Use the Moment” and “There’s No Such Thing as Failure,” Lloyd says. (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.)
“I understand that there’s no such thing as failure, especially when I keep working and don’t quit,” says Lloyd’s student Edwin Rosario, reflecting on what he learned from SUCCESS for Teens.
During the presentation, the sixth-graders paid rapt attention and seemed to leave with a sense of optimism and motivation, Lloyd says. But the impact on the presenters themselves was even more powerful. The next day, he asked his class to reflect on the teaching experience.
“After hearing these testimonials, I knew something special had occurred,” Lloyd says. “The response of the eighth-grade students was truly remarkable. This effect was evident beyond our classroom. It actually spread across the entire campus, mostly by word-of-mouth, with many students in other grades stopping by my classroom, asking me about the program and how they could get involved.”
The icing on the cake occurred weeks later, when several Twin Rivers Unified School District officials, including the superintendent, and two superior court judges visited the school to present Lloyd’s classes with a special civics award for their project.
To share your story about the program, learn more about it, make a donation or request books, visit SUCCESSFoundation.org. Leaders, participants and donors can request a profile in SUCCESS by emailing info@SUCCESSFoundation.org.