In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama asked states to consider increasing the minimum age for a student to leave school to 18. How do we keep youth engaged and motivated? Teens are unique and their educational experiences should be unique as well. The cookie cutter approach to education leads to our teens dropping out of school or graduating from high school unprepared for higher education or the workforce. The “old way” of teaching is driving our national education reform efforts.
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, high school drop outs from the class of 2006-2007 will cost the US more than $329 million in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetime because those who drop out are more likely to be incarcerated, rely on public programs and social services, and go without health insurance than those who graduate from high school. A college education may not be for everyone but graduation from high school is a MUST.
What does “A Teen’s Life Is Worth Documenting” mean to you?
For a child in the foster care system it probably means those words that are written about them in their personal file. You know the file that precedes them at every meeting, placement, and court hearing. The file that attempts to explain the reason they entered foster care, the length of time in the system, the changes in schools, the number of foster placements, health concerns, and any mental health screenings and diagnoses. The file containing this documentation is extremely important right? Essential even?!
I’m not speaking of the file that documents the thoughts and judgments of countless social workers, lawyers, doctors, and educators and barely contains the views of the youth in foster care. The accomplishments, aspirations, and support systems in a teen’s life are worth documenting. Every teen is unique and full of promise and potential. My teens document their lives in a professional portfolio — a visual tool that gives employers, recruiters, scouts, and mentors a complete picture of who you are. I believe that a professional portfolio can be an integral element not only in building skills and confidence in youth but also in helping them develop and maintain crucial personal and professional connections.
Many of us we are skilled in a variety of areas. Our culture has taught us to multi-task like our lives depend on it (often times it does). Throughout my career and definitely as an entrepreneur I have felt like a jack of all trades and a master of none on many occasions. I have helped clients with housing, food, medical assistance, and clothing. I have played the role of “work mom”, chauffer, parenting coach, stylist, and teacher. Some days I have worn the hat of scholarship consultant, academic advisor, counselor, tour guide, and career coach. I am truly a “do what needs to be done” kind of lady. In fact, two of my most used phrases are “get it done” and “keep it moving”. That’s good right? Well, usually it is.
A few years ago I had begun to run on “auto pilot” for a couple months. At times I would do a presentation or workshop simply because I had the knowledge or because I was asked. I was forced to be honest with myself and take a look at how I was spending my time. I realized that busy doesn’t always equate to productive. I needed to make some changes.