Throughout the 2016-17 school year, Kelly Grace, a seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher in Mitchell, Indiana, wanted to start sharing SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge with her students. The book is the cornerstone of SUCCESS for Teens, a personal-development curriculum by the SUCCESS Foundation.
After completing her curriculum and testing in the early spring, there was finally time. Every day, Grace would assign 10 pages of reading and discuss lessons from the book with her students. Copies of the book sat on a shelf since the beginning of the school year and her students had been asking about it, so Grace knew there was interest in what she calls “Dave Ramsey for Kids.” (SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the e-book, facilitator’s guide and audio to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs.)
“The more they read, the more questions they had,” Grace says.
In the early chapters, some of the students were struggling with a variety of the concepts and teachings, several of them saying they didn’t know how they could make a difference in the world or even how they saw themselves as adults. Every 10 pages, though, brought change.
“They started the book seeing themselves small, and this world being big and scary, challenging and unwelcoming,” Grace says. “And by the end, it was, ‘I want to explore more. I want to see the world. I want to leave my mark.’ ”
On the last day of class, when most students are dreaming of summer vacation, Grace’s students wrote essays on how SUCCESS for Teens had impacted them. One student wrote:
Hatred grows like weeds and kills what we want to accomplish. I now know we need to filter out the negative. What’s hard is doing the little things every day, not swearing, doing your homework; small choices help build personality and character. Small steps lead to larger things. Anything hard in life usually involves sacrifice.
“They started the book seeing themselves small, and this world being big and scary… And by the end, it was, ‘I want to explore more. I want to see the world. I want to leave my mark.’ ”
Mitchell is a town of fewer than 5,000 people. Half of its students qualify for free lunches and there have been numerous methamphetamine-related drug arrests in the past year.
“We have major issues around here. Some of the kids are hungry, some are wondering where they are going to sleep that night, so seeing so many of my students positive about reading SUCCESS for Teens, that was inspiring for me,” Grace says. “I’m all in.”
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 info@SUCCESSFoundation.org.
This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.