As the new school year gets under way for many young people in the region, including my own nephew who is starting first grade this term, I am reminded of the importance of encouraging our young people to buckle down and stay the course despite the obstacles they will face.
Beyond this, I think we must expect them to do so. We must expect to them do well. Young people doing well is connected to the expectations we have of them because when they know that parents and/or caregivers and teachers expect their best, they are more likely to work toward their best. The new school year offers with it a new opportunity to set a new standard for the young people in our lives. In order for them to do well, the task cannot rest solely on the educators in the schools. It will take a collective and collaborative effort on the part of parents and/or caregivers and teachers.
Young people have an amazing capacity for overcoming odds and rising to the occasion. Those who believe in themselves have an advantage, but this belief in self is not separate from others believing in them as well. I have heard many stories from now adults, who, as children, felt no one cared about how they did in school. No one invested time to help them or to ensure that they had what they needed to have a chance to do well. Some have even shared how they lost interest in school because of this at an early age, leading to many negative consequences. Parents/Caregivers and teachers have to want their students to do well in the classroom and in life and help prepare them for those arenas. Students cannot put forward their best efforts without the self-determination, focus and belief in self that they learn to have as a result of those adults around them who expect them to do well. It is an interconnected process.
In order for our young people to do well, we have to be willing to make sacrifices of time, energy and sometimes financial resources. We have to be invested in our young people’s future by showing up and being present. Let your young person know that you are there as an active participant in their lives as students. This is so critical because it is the difference between the young person who falls, slips, stumbles, and keeps going and the young person who gives up. It is the difference between the young person who is the underdog with odds stacked against him but rising to the forefront and the young person who doesn’t believe he can rise to the forefront. I believe that difference is what makes a difference.
Today, make or renew your commitment to setting a new standard in a young person’s life.
Regardless of race, socio-economic, or family status, young people can succeed. These obstacles do not have to impede their journeys to academic and personal success.
Tell a young person to be encouraged.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.