- Victor J. Andrew High School
2020 is here! The dawn of a new decade and the second half of the school year is beginning.
January is an important month for our students. Seniors are beginning their last semester at Andrew, underclassmen are thinking about their classes for next year, and incoming freshmen are starting to make important decisions about their high school future. As parents, we try to do our best to pick the right combination of involvement. We want to respect their growing independence, but we also want to exercise our right to point them in the right direction - for their own good…
As a parent (of a high schooler, no less) and an educator, I struggle with this concept of “involvement”. The only right answer is there is no right answer. However, there are three big ideas that I always encourage when having deep conversations with 13-18 years old’s about their bright futures.
- What’s the long-term plan? That question has a million different answers. As a parent, I never tell him/her what I think their plan should be - unless asked - but I try to hold them accountable to it as long as they believe in their plan. The classes they chose, the grades they get, the sports / clubs they join and the schedule they keep is all dependent upon the long-term plan (with some exceptions, of course). As it changes, so does my advice and expectations.
- Do you have a clear idea of who you are? Again, a million different answers. This includes career, where they want to live, who they want to hang out with, and what do they want to spend their time doing. Although this is very broad, it helps in assisting my kid make those micro-decisions about school and personal life. If being a great athlete is who he thinks he is, then skipping the weight room is a no go. If she wants to sing, then quit complaining about practicing. Same would apply to selecting classes, choosing after-school activities, or post-high school planning.
- What do you LOVE to do (not like)? This is often the most difficult question because it leaves us the most vulnerable. Always establish that love of something can change, because it does. But finding what you love to do and letting that drive decisions is always the key to stress reduction, less anxiety, and increased conversations between you and your kid. Again, we then talk about electives, clubs, or post-secondary planning as a result. I have kids that love traveling and new experiences, now I find myself researching study abroad programs (and how to pay for them!).
Again, this is the parent and not principal - although I can never divide both and I offer no guarantee of the effectiveness of this strategy. However, in the 14 years of experience as a dad and 19 years as a school leader, I have seen the impact of coaching kids through short-term decision making by forcing them to think long-term has been effective, less stressful, and allowed the student to take ownership of their lives.
I hope the stresses of opening a new year does not overwhelm you, and know that our faculty and staff are here to help you along the way. We continue to value the partnership among all our families and students as we navigate these four years together.