I'm New "Yawk" through and through—down to my newspaper and Brooklyn/Queens/Manhattan public school education, from kindergarten through high school.
I had a lot going on in afterschool hours, from speech therapy sessions with the school's SLP (to address vocal nodules brought on by excessive talking; I still talk too much, though I'm nodule free) to girls' softball (I played a mean second base) and a bit of time spent in Brownies and Girl Scouts.
In this Sunday's paper (print, not digital, because I need reasons to wear my drugstore 125+ readers), there was an article about the stunning—yet not at all surprising—lack of interest and engagement in school amongst high school students. The poll they reference shows that 68 percent of 11th-graders DO NOT feel engaged by school as it relates to their classroom education. I don't have enough space in this newsletter for all that I am inspired to write on the topic, as I'm likely too passionate about it for my own good. (I'm generally too passionate about most things.) The researched diminishment of empathy in high school kids is beyond troubling to me, and I might have a closeted obsession with it.
It's important to share that I was very blessed and super spoiled with an almost conservatory-like training in theater at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, from 19blah blah blah to 19blah blah blah. There was never a dull moment, and should any academic area feel "boring" at any time, my classmates were anything but. In those pre-cellphone days, we teenagers were super-connectors with only our home units of Atari to distract us from each other.
I developed WRiTE BRAiN HiGH SCHOOL years ago, when I saw the need for innovative and inspiring literacy-building options that would also increase social-emotional learning and foster a sense of responsibility and accountability in kids who are no longer children, but not yet adults. Witnessing teenagers step up to author a children's book for a small child becoming a new reader is a soul- and eye-opening experience. It shines a light on a generosity of spirit that exudes from high school students who are given a chance to collaborate and express themselves in ways that are meaningful to them—without fear of being graded, tested and assessed.
Anyone out there in OST land who knows me at all knows that I'm addicted to afterschool education and all it's doing to support students, educators, and communities in what I'd say has been a harrowing decade in Educationville, U.S.A.
If we can offer programs in afterschool hours that provide opportunities for high school kids to create and give of themselves through mentorship and community-building projects—so they can grow personally and earn service hours while they're at it—we just might save the world.
And really, do any of us have anything better to do?
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Written by Meredith Scott Lynn, Founder and CEO of WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS.
Photos courtesy of WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS.