Just minutes before meeting with me, 15-year-old Jasmine Webb clicked the submit button on her online application to North Carolina Central University. She had officially applied for college, and her now healthy self-esteem made all the difference, she said. Jasmine is at student at Communities In Schools of Durham’s Performance Learning Center.
Applying for college has not always been on her radar. Jasmine recalled sitting in a large classroom earlier this year surrounded by dozens of other students. Rather than facing the teacher, students were turned toward each other carrying on their own conversations.
She couldn’t focus with the chatter occurring all around her. In turn, the teacher had to repeatedly diverge from the lesson to ask the class to stop talking and to pay attention. As this carried on, it became harder and harder for her to remain attentive.
This is just one example of a negative environment affecting our students. Jasmine identified negative environments, both in the classroom and at home, as a factor she has witnessed contribute to her peers dropping out of school.
If a student is constantly surrounded by apathetic peers, a once-committed student could develop an indifferent attitude as well, she explained. Similarly, if a student goes home to a family that is unsupportive or uninterested in their academic pursuits, they will be discouraged from taking their own education seriously.
The root of the issue is that negative environments lead to low self-esteem, Jasmine explained. School is challenging and if a student doesn’t have a strong support system they can’t be expected to succeed in the classroom, she said.
The most important thing we can do to prevent dropouts is provide support and increase student’s self-esteem so they can have the confidence to keep trying and eventually succeed, she argued.
When Jasmine was in eighth grade she met her best friend; this was the relationship that increased her self-esteem and gave her confidence in her self. She now has a friend she knows will always have her back and will hold her accountable for her education.
Today, Jasmine tries to be that friend for her fellow students, as well as for her younger family members. Having a role model or good group of friends can make all the difference, she said. Mentorship programs can be a great way to become a role model or motivator for a student.
Jasmine clarified that between parents and teachers, students have plenty of people telling them what they should be doing. She is not looking for another person to tell her what to do, rather she is looking for someone to simply listen and be interested in what is going on in her life; some who can motivate rather than instruct.
There are 100 open volunteer opportunities from now until December at CIS Durham, which include academic mentorship, among many other possibilities.
Click here to learn how you can sign up to foster self-confidence and curiosity in our Durham classrooms!