April 25, 2012

Ember Conley

From Development to Realizing Dreams: Encouraging Students’ Growth

Last night as I am turning off the last light before bedtime, I hear “singing” (if you can call it that) coming from my daughter’s bedroom. As I peaked in the door, she had her eyes closed, iPod headphones plugged in her ears, singing as loud as she could. It reminded me of a Christmas holiday that I shared with my daughter years ago when she spent hours wearing out her gift from her aunt, a Hannah Montana karaoke CD. Not only did she sing to this CD, she turned the karaoke machine as loud as it would go and dressed up like Hannah Montana. Part of her dress up attire was a pair of four-inch high heels that were hand-me-downs from her teenage cousins. She would wear the heels until she went to bed; they looked great with her pajamas, and she would put them on as soon as she was out of bed. I was worried she was going to fall down and seriously injure herself. Everyone else was crazy because they made a unique clicking sound as she walked through the house (probably because they were four sizes too big!). Her dream was to be a dancer and singer. Aren’t dreams great?

I think when we reminisce back to our childhood, we can all remember those dreams, some coming to fruition, others changing as our lives mature. As the deputy superintendent serving Maricopa Unified School District, I am reminded constantly of the maturation of our young people’s lives. It is always amazing to see the changes our students undergo during their physical and mental development as a student. Many times, it is pure joy and astonishment.  These changes, however, are never overnight.

With ACTs, SATs, prom and graduation upon us, it is important for us as parents, and as educators, to encourage that growth and development that will lead our children down the path to one day realizing their dreams. Whether it happens sooner, or takes a student a little bit longer to get there, it is ever-important to remind them that the end is in sight and to never give up.

We as adults must never minimize the daily growing process of our students, nor must we minimize the influence we have in their lives. We must gently encourage them, embrace their growth and help them follow through to their completion of high school and beyond. This time in their life is challenging and difficult and our tolerance to them acting out their dreams is significant. Just as our tolerance to my daughter’s high heel clicking, loud singing and crazy dancing was a major challenge to us, it allowed her to enjoy and grow during this time in her life.