A few months ago, I put out a request for readers to share stories of practical ways we can prepare students for adulthood. I was finishing up the manuscript for my new book, Artificial Maturity, and wanted to include real-life examples from people around the world.
The response was absolutely overwhelming! I’m so thankful for everyone who took time to share ideas. There were so many more than could be included in one chapter of Artificial Maturity, but I wanted everyone to hear these great ideas. So here’s the plan: over the course of next year, I’ll share a story that someone submitted. I hope you find them as challenging and helpful as I did!
Here’s this week’s story:
My name is Karen Stella, and I am a Campus Manager and Volunteer Service Coordinator at Circle Christian School in Winter Park, Florida.
Dr. Elmore, I have had the privilege of meeting you twice while you were partnering with Circle Christian School.
I guess if you asked my family, I have a knack for always seeing the positive in any situation. To those who see the “glass half empty”, I see it half full. It can be annoying, I guess, to some, but I ask, “Why not see the positive? What does it hurt?”
Being the Campus Manager has given me the opportunity to do what I love best, and that is to take a “weakness” in a student, and make it so very positive, that it benefits not only the student, but others.
Such situations have occurred twice this year with the development of two programs, Hopeful Soles and Tread With A Heart.
When it came to my attention that a student was too willing to help others with homework, we decided to find some other way for her to use her desire to share. At that time a person had come to me with a sincere need for steel-toed boots and backpacks for the homeless. It seemed that there was work for healthy, homeless men, if they had steel-toed boots. I sat with the student and her mom and I found that not only was she generous with “giving” she also was talented in computer art. She named the program Hopeful Soles, and designed a logo to promote the program school wide. A video was made and not only were hundreds of steel-toed boots and backpacks donated, but also money to fund the program.
Last year I met a student whose self-esteemed had been beaten down by years of teachers from prior schools giving up on her because she had difficulty in reading. Her mom enrolled her in our school and got a private tutor. She has been reading for 2 years now. This year I am on campus with this 8th grader, and I could tell she had a sensitive heart. Still shy, after getting to know her more, it was obvious to me she had a desire to do something to help others.
When I spoke with her about a need for lower income public school students to have tennis shoes for P.E., she and I developed the idea of collecting shoes from our students to give to the public school students.
She told me she was too shy to talk about it or get others involved. I told her to develop it by designing a logo and naming it, and that would be a great start. Within a week, not only did she design a beautiful logo, she named the program, Tread With A Heart.
She stood in front of her classmates at lunch, and we asked them what they could do to help. Several said they could make collection boxes for the shoes donated. Others said they would ask their families and neighbors for shoes they weren’t using.
They did a great job! I began to see this young lady “own” her project. She was proud of what had happened with her idea. She agreed to help me write an article for the school’s family newsletter, and she allowed me to include a picture of her and a large box of shoes collected in just two weeks.
Thank you for letting me share these stories with you.
I have a passion for finding the leader in the student others may have overlooked.
I believe leaders come organically with some fine-tuning and prayer.
Karen Stella, Orlando, FL