Some have families. Others have successful careers. A few have wealth. Many have it all.
When students in our Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) were asked to write what success in their 30s would look like, the stories were as big and bold as any high school student would dare to dream.
Despite the challenges many JCCS students face, achieving success is an attainable goal in their minds. And that's a powerful motivation.
"We have goals. We want more than we have. We aspire for more than just the minimum," said Alexandra, a student at Bayside Community School.
Matt Simon, curriculum and instruction administrator for JCCS, wanted to share the students' work, so he led an effort to publish a collection of more than 100 stories in a book called Success Kaleidoscope, which is now available on Amazon.
"When people read these stories, I think they will be intrigued, and also struck by the fact that these authors are teens and they dream big," Simon said.
The book is the culmination of a success-themed English language arts writing unit in which students learned to write a narrative essay. As part of the unit, they learned how people from different backgrounds define success and participated in activities to understand what stands between people and success. The final part of the unit looked at how people overcome adversity to achieve success.
It also provided students with an opportunity for discovery.
"I learned how to write a narrative essay and that I'm a good writer," said Angel, another Bayside Community School student. "My dream is to be a SWAT team member. This writing project gives me more motivation to pursue what I want to be in the future."
In addition to the opportunity for students to engage in authentic writing, Simon saw the book as a way to celebrate teachers' hard work and provide others a stronger sense of what was happening in the classroom. And it made published authors out of students who never expected to be.
All English teachers in JCCS took part in teaching the success/narrative writing unit. Students whose stories are in the book are enrolled in SDCOE's community schools, Monarch School, and San Diego SOAR Academy.
Students in Rochelle Parsons' classes at Bayside Community School participated in the writing unit and submitted stories for the book.
"The unit gave the students a sense of pride and made them feel like real writers and authors," Parsons said. Now that other students know that there is a book of student writings published on Amazon, Parsons added, it's a motivation to participate in future writing units.