One day a colleague suggested that teacher Rod Hames check out SUCCESS for Teens, a free personal-development curriculum offered by the SUCCESS Foundation. That was five years ago. Since then Hames estimates that the program has impacted more than 1,000 students at his Lawrenceville, Ga., middle school.
“I know as a 24-plus-year veteran teacher that this book has the ability to change lives,” he says. “It either plants seeds or waters gardens for those who already have the seed planted.”
In 2012, when SUCCESS first reported on Hames, he was integrating SUCCESS for Teens into his business/computer education classes. The central component of the curriculum is the book SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge, in which teenagers themselves talk about easy, manageable steps for skills such as goal-setting and resisting peer pressure. (The SUCCESS Foundation donates hard copies of the book to qualifying public schools, churches and youth-development programs; SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the book and facilitator’s guide to everyone.)
Hames still teaches the program, having students answer the book’s questions in their journals and join in discussions. He also invites faculty and members of the community to speak about subjects such as time management, personal credibility and motivation.
The curriculum has become a key part of Hames’ teaching and in 2014 spawned a popular offshoot: a mock Shark Tank event in which students create their own businesses, complete with business plans, mission statements and goals. “They then have to create a business pitch and present it to actual business professionals,” Hames says. “Our last event was a huge success.”
He continues to use SUCCESS for Teens for one reason: “It is extremely effective because it allows students to do more than just read about life. It allows kids to personalize their learning. It allows them to react and apply truths to themselves.”
Of all the topics that SUCCESS for Teens touches on, Hames says failure has the biggest impact. “Many students have tasted failure,” he says. “They love to hear about how others overcame failure. They say it gives them courage to face the future.” Student Amanda Nguyen echoes that sentiment: “From SUCCESS for Teens, I learned that there’s no such thing as failure…. Don’t think of it as failure, but as an experience that will help you to achieve your goals in the future.”
Hames has become a vocal proponent of SUCCESS for Teens, often discussing it at local, state and national conferences on education. And he plans to keep spreading the word about the power of the program.
“I am thrilled to share the truths in this book.”