The arrival of the (slightly early) school vacation marks the completion of the Dream Management project’s first year among the Grade 9 students. We would like to take the opportunity to brief our extended PEPY family on this initiative, which has flown a bit under the radar, but about which we are enthusiastic.
Dream Manager in Grade 9 is similar in some ways to our original ideas for Dream Management, which involves guiding and supporting staff members to fulfill their personal ambitions. For grade 9 students, Dream Management involves one-on-one discussion of goals with a counselor who helps define what lies between them and their desires, and what they need to do to overcome these obstacles. This usually makes up about half of the weekly four hours devoted to this class, which the students refer to simply as “Dream.” The other two hours are seminars on subjects like the qualities of a leader, how to succeed in school, and what university life is like. Additionally, the students are asked about the careers they are interested in, and the PEPY team arranges for professionals in these fields to come in and discuss how to prepare for this career (doctors and teachers were the most popular responses this year).
To mark the culmination of the Dream Manager Project’s first year, the class had a special student-led session. Eight students presented to their peers about their interests, about one or more points studied over the year that they found particularly compelling, and about what progress they have made towards their personal goals. One student’s efforts to become a songwriter resulted in the composition of 20 songs, while another began a regime of reviewing new English words daily to get ahead. Others pursued the universal ambition of teenagers to own something they wanted by learning to save money and seeking out help from others.
The year ahead for the Dream Manager Project in Grade 9 will definitely usher in changes. Lida, the current project manager expressed a desire for stability in next year’s program, as this year had three different teachers. As a pilot project, the lack of a curriculum also increased the pressure on the teacher to constantly generate ideas. Nevertheless, the students’ reactions are an encouraging sign that the project is making a difference in the lives and futures of the students. Well over eight students volunteered to present, including students who don’t traditionally speak up in class. Moreover, the presenters, eager to share about subjects that animated them, often went over the 10 minutes allotted to them. We are excited at the opportunity that next year presents to refine and develop this project further, because we are confident that it is capable of inspiring students to take empowerment into their own hands.