A lot of work with schools, you don’t know if it matters, you think it does, but so many problems, complaints, and structural issues. Sometimes, though, you hear from kids and those doubts are shaken aside if only for a few moments.
These are voices from our students (full disclosure I am a trustee and was on the design team). And the school New Ventures Charter School, caters to transfer students, those struggling in traditional high schools, or more likely, those pushed out. We just completed our summer program and asked the students to reflect, the responses were eloquent, touching, funny, and definitely put some fuel in my tank to keep working.
To quote one student, “(f)or the first time in a long time I don’t feel stupid and I feel as if I’m going to be successful here…Thank you for this opportunity to get my life back on track.”
Another said, “I am extremely thankful for having this opportunity to be able to attend New Ventures charter school. My grades during my experience in (deleted) High School never matched up to my intelligence, and I just gave up. In New Ventures, I always have a push. I’m always pushed to do my best, and I’m finally proud of myself… The teachers don’t talk to me like I am incompetent. But they speak to my peers and I with equal respect. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am…I know that coming to this school was all I needed to push myself to excellence, and I can finally say that I am making my parents proud.”
And a third, “English is fun, and I can finally put the writing skills I’ve honed in my own time to use…I’ve already learned quite a few things I never knew and have found perhaps my favourite poem, If-by Rudyard Kipling…I’m lucky I got into this school and do not intend to take it for granted. This school is already turning out to be amazing and cannot wait for the rest of the year.”
In the end they sounded just like any teenagers, struggling for acceptance with peers and family, self esteem, and to find their place in the world, wanting to be recognized as individuals and exist as part of a caring community. And it sounded like this new option was opening these doors for them.
A lot of times, working with schools, you don’t really know if it matters, you just feel like you are scooping water out of the ocean with a teaspoon trying to reduce sea levels. Today was not one of those days.