Recently, Gallup conducted a survey of more than 1,200 public school district superintendents across the nation in hopes of gaining a more comprehensive understanding of their perceptions and opinions on the top issues facing U.S. schools. When it came to the question of measuring a school’s “effectiveness” in producing successful and effective graduates, superintendents pointed less toward traditional indicators of success, like the different paths taken by students post-graduation, and more toward abstract indicators, such as a student’s hope for what’s possible in the future. In fact, 80% of the education leaders surveyed consider hope a “very important” measure of a public school’s effectiveness.
Superintendents aren’t alone. Findings from the 47th Annual Gallup/PDK Poll of the Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools (a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults) revealed that 77% of the public agreed that hope is a very important measure of school effectiveness.
These are promising findings for an organization like Junior Achievement® (JA®), that is dedicated to inspiring young people and giving them the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, make smart academic and economic choices, and be successful in a complex modern economy. JA ignites a spark in young people to realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century, and through its role model volunteers, give students a look at exactly what is possible with hard work and determination.
At a time when young people are constantly characterized by the mainstream media as uninterested, unmotivated and generally unprepared to become the world’s future leaders, JA® becomes even more important. Being constantly bombarded by this negative messaging, it is easy to see how young people might internalize these stereotypes and lack confidence in themselves to become the next generation of movers and shakers.
JA® volunteers work hard to make sure this isn’t the case. They help their students to realize their own potential and recognize that they are not simply passive bystanders in life who are bound to circumstances beyond their control. The JA® volunteer shows students that they have the power to influence their destiny based on the decisions they are making today. JA® shows young people the endless possibilities of work and life in the 21st century and the hands-on experiences students gain through JA® programs embolden them with the confidence they need to succeed as they seek their path to their own American Dream.
As Gallup notes, “While there is no easy path to achieving a school's greatest effectiveness, educators believe that highly engaged and hopeful students have a strong platform for realizing their dreams for the future.” With JA® programs present in students’ K-12 curriculum, it is likely that they will emerge from school hopeful for what is to come.
To find out how you can join JA® and instill a renewed sense of hope in our region’s young people, please visit www.myja.org/volunteers/waystovolunteer.