Lead, So That I May Follow
They say success is contagious, but for some kids, this type of infection would be a blessing or even a miracle, as they live quarantined from the influences that breed success. And most would probably tell you that they don't know what true success looks like to catch it, even if they wanted to. Their daily lives are equipped with struggles that many of us will never face as adults. Yet, in spite of these odds, these same children still want to do right, do well, see the good in life, and come out winning. As adults, we have a moral obligation to show these kids the wealth of opportunity that lies ahead when hard work, persistence, and the right attitude are put to task, but an opportunity that is hardly won without a fight.
When Andre Semper entered middle school, he had a sad secret. Both his parents had died when he was 9, and he was living with an aunt.
When Earl Mitchell was in ninth-grade, he had failed four classes. He had friends who were dropping out, getting into trouble and going to jail.
"My grades weren't good, and I was in and out of school suspension," remembers Kim Ferguson. "I was involved in all types of minor delinquent behavior."
"I had never seen a college campus, and I thought college was just for stiff people, nerds, not people like me," remembers Steve Harvey, an affectionate young man with an open smile. "But when I got there, I saw people similar to me, and I realized that I could have more ambition for myself."
At 17, Tamika Stewart became pregnant. For many adolescent girls, a pregnancy can lead to dropping out of school and an end to their hopes and dreams. Tamika felt her world closing in around her. "I thought it was the end of my education," she says now.
At 14, when most girls are worried about boyfriends, clothes and fitting in with their friends, Stephanie Ruffin had far more serious problems on her mind. Her mother could no longer care for her. Stephanie had to support herself and still try to get through high school.
"I was a total screw-up in school," recalls Dana Borter. "I was barely passing, and I would never go to class. I hated school."
There is no greater task than to help children who are at risk of having a healthy and meaningful future? And this is not a task won gently, for it requires a strength that is only achieved through diligence, trial, and service. When leaders begin giving back to their community, a new light emerges. Kids see hope. And when kids have a vision, the world changes. At the Institute for Student Achievement, it is the mindful leadership of a few adults that is making a difference in the lives of many of our youth.
How is the institute changing the lives of children? Carefully, and one child at a time.
Take a sneek peek here at how they do it!
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