When I published my first book in 2010.
I thought it would help a few teen mothers who might stumble across it and encourage them and actually show them how to graduate from high school, go to college, and beat the statistics. That’s it. Just teen moms.
Well, it didn’t happen like that- I’m SO glad! Many other people besides teen moms were reading the book, AND telling me how much they learned from it, were inspired by it, and motivated to do more with their lives.
See what they had to say!
In 2011 I was asked to develop a curriculum to go with the book
And I found a teacher to do just that. That curriculum was simple but powerful. Teachers and guidance counselors with students from 5th grade to high school were using it to teach important life skills and character education. The sessions I led personally were filled with students opening up and sharing their challenges and learning how they could overcome those challenges just like I did.
During that time, I met a guidance counselor who tracked me down after reading my book at her friend’s house.
She loved it and immediately wanted to use it and the curriculum with her 5th-grade students. She saw a drastic change in her student’s attitudes and behaviors, and they were LOVING reading my book! (That is SO awesome!!). After three years of using it, she gave me an idea that I believe is going to change the lives of young people around the country.
She explained and soon after that I began hearing about Higher Learning on the news, on the Internet, and everywhere all the time with many people not understanding it or not agreeing with it.
But I did my own research and talked to educators to understand the pros and cons and learned that most states were adopting it for valid reasons (I won’t get into that part too much). For educators, a major challenge was implementation- actually using Higher Learning and making it make sense for themselves, students, parents, and the community.
So after three years of research and finding the right person, an awesome educator and curriculum developer who completely understood Higher Learning, to make help make our ideas tangible, we now have the….
“As an educator, I know it is hard to keep students engaged in extended reading, something essential to Higher Learning. Summer Owens’ book & curriculum offer authentic non-fiction text that intrigues students while strengthening Higher Learning skills. All of the lesson’s objectives are based on CCSS. The lessons are bi-fold with a focus on the CCSS skills as well as character education. This is a must-have for the students of today.” -Patricia McNair
The workbooks are aligned to the English Language Arts Higher Learning Standards with a strong focus on LITERACY.
The curriculum emphasizes citing evidence, informational text, sequence, vocabulary, writing, and active discussions.
We built the curriculum with the following goals in mind:
- Improve academic performance, standardized test scores, school attendance rates, graduation rates, and post-secondary attendance rates
- Build digital literacy and STEM skills to support learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
- Develop college and career goals and workforce readiness
- Develop reading comprehension and writing skills
- Promote literacy, academic excellence, health-related and financial education
- Build self-esteem and help students value themselves and their futures
- Reduce bullying and violence and decrease discipline referrals
- Encourage leadership, teamwork, and community involvement
- Develop character and teach life skills to help students succeed in school and beyond
- Improve emotional learning initiatives
- Reduce teen pregnancy, poverty, and welfare dependence
But wait, there’s more!
The curriculum also teaches lessons using Math Higher Learning Standards as well as College and Career Readiness, but just as important, students will get important life skills and character education.
Some of the topics included are:
- The importance and the impact of education
- Money management
- Communication skills
- Planning and thinking ahead
- The value of hard work
- Understanding emotions
- Cause and effect
- Relationships and the influence of friends
- Sex, STD’s and teen pregnancy
- Delayed gratification
- Making a good impression
- Handling disappointments
The curriculum is available in four versions-
- 5th grade
- 6-8th grade
- 9-12th grade
- College/young adult
And no, it’s not just for schools. The S.O. What! The curriculum is for any organization that works with youth who they want to see overcome obstacles and be successful.
I am beyond excited about this amazing tool that will get youth reading, thinking, understanding, and planning for their futures. And I’m honored that they can use my story of poor choices and perseverance and going from victim to numerous victories to create their own success stories!