Posted on | December 23, 2012 | 10 Comments
Last Friday I kissed my three daughters and waved them off to school. Last Friday I was more grateful than ever to see them return home. The Sandy Hook shootings have us all filled with anguish and a new resolve to make sure this never happens again. My deepest sympathies to all the families and community impacted by this most distressing tragedy.
Without getting too political, though, I fear this jolt of horror will follow the same tired path: gun control extremists on both sides pointing fingers, a well intentioned yet feeble cry from social services to get more funding, a few weeks of security reviews at local schools… and then back in the sand our heads will go.
How can it be different this time? What can I, what can you reading this blog, do to make a difference?
I believe there’s a solid answer but to share that answer on this blog, in a public forum through which I publicly declare my intentions? Rather intimidating but what the heck, here goes..
For 2013, I have one New Years Resolution. It’s a resolution that I see as the best antidote to another Sandy Hook-like tragedy. Before I share it with you, let me explain why I decided upon this resolution:
10 years ago in another town, I served as a teacher assistant for a class of 40 high school students and 5 of their teachers. Not a traditional class one would have in school but something that was sponsored by a local business and held at school after hours.
At the class graduation, these students stood in front of their parents, peers, teachers, and community leaders and shared their stories.
First they spoke of their struggles with depression, anxiety, peer pressure, broken families, and broken relationships. Then they spoke of how over the last 12 weeks they’d overcome them.
A self described “wallflower” said she’d made more friends in the last 12 weeks than she had in the last 12 years. An athlete proudly declared that he’d found the courage and humility to apologize and make amends with someone he’d bullied years before. Another student who said she’d never felt she was any good at anything discovered a talent for theater.
Every story was inspirational not only because of how these teenagers had grown in 12 weeks but because of how well their stories were told. These kids showed more confidence and spoke with more clarity than a seasoned business executive.
That experience taught me that success doesn’t come only from getting straight A’s in school. Success for them and for our entire society comes when these kids graduate with a sense of self worth and confidence.
Think back to all the hours you spent in school studying algebra, chemistry, dates in history, and a bunch of other stuff that you might not have applied since the day you passed the exam. This “academic” knowledge has its value but let me ask you this:
By the time you were 20, the same age as Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, how well equipped were you at getting along with other people, dealing with stress and worry, respecting others different than you, feeling comfortable in your own skin?
To be brutally honest, I’m far more hopeful that your children and mine enter the real world with strong human relation skills than perfect SAT scores.
Who is the next Adam Lanza? I have no idea. But I do know (and so do you) that if the next Adam Lanza has more opportunity to discover the skills that traditional academic programs don’t touch upon – or if the next Adam Lanza is befriended by someone who’s been trained on how to apply them – your children and mine will live in a safer, more cooperative world.
My resolution for 2013 is to bring this 12 week program to my local school, the State College Area School District. It’s a resolution that I cannot do alone; it’s a resolution with a $30,000 price tag.
Other communities that offer this course have corporate sponsors and/or benefactors who contribute.
Whether you own a business or you’re an individual donor, I cannot imagine an investment that brings stronger ROI or delivers stronger preventive medicine.
I write these blogs for you. Through them I seek nothing in return other than your support and friendship.
This time, however, I’m asking for something a little more specific. If you want to do your part (however large or small) to prevent another Sandy Hook tragedy, if you agree that the most impactful response to these shootings is giving teenagers a chance to become more than they dream possible, email me at email@example.com and I’ll follow up with you personally. Let’s include your voice among those ready to make a difference.
Wishing you and your families a wonderful holiday season and great success in 2013.
A few details about the program:
Name: Dale Carnegie Training for High School Students
What the course focuses on:
• Building self-confidence
• Enhancing communication skills
• How to deal with stress and worry
• Teamwork and interpersonal skills
• Effective attitude management
Duration: 1 session per week x 12 weeks
Class participants: 40 HS students + 5 HS teachers
All graduates receive 3 college credits
All donations to sponsor the program are tax deductible