Have you ever watched a movie and immediately seen yourself in one of the characters? I recently watched one of my childhood favorites, Harriet the Spy. The protagonist Harriet M. Welsh, a sixth grade student who loves writing, explores the city, observes the people around her, and writes down her thoughts. One of my favorite lines from the movie is:

“I want to learn everything I can, and I write down everything I see. Golly says if I want to be a writer someday, I better start now, and that is why I am a spy.”

What stands out to me is Harriet’s nanny Golly is telling her how to reach her dream and Harriet is following her guidance. Like Harriet, as a child I did not leave the house without a book, a journal, and a pen. I realized early on that writing was what I loved to do and wanted to turn that into my career.

Research shows that students’ interests develop at a very young age. Students need to be guided by the adults in their lives during these stages, particularly in school. By middle school, students who become disengaged can fall behind their peers. According to an ACT report, students who fall off track in eighth grade are less likely to meet college readiness benchmarks in high school.

I am thankful for the support from my teachers, my counselor, my family, and even my high school principal to help turn my dream of becoming a writer into a reality. They pushed me to seek opportunities to strengthen my skills, such as spending a summer at Monmouth University for a journalism program and becoming a contributing writer for the teen section of my local newspaper. And, I believe these experiences helped me stand out to the admissions team when I was accepted into the School of Communication at my first choice school, American University, in Washington D.C.

Reflecting on my own experiences made me think about what educators and mentors can do to acknowledge students’ strengths and guide them with practical ways to achieve their dreams.

Last year at the Naviance Summer Institute, keynote speaker and national best selling author, Arel Moodie, spoke about the power of positive influences on students. Educators play a crucial role in providing the guidance and encouragement for students to achieve their goals.

In addition, schools have an opportunity to help students connect the dots early. Elementary school students are highly engaged and naturally imagine what their futures could hold. This is a crucial window of time to expose students to exciting paths, and help them see how middle school, high school, and college will help them get there. 

Near the end of the movie, Harriet nominates herself to be an editor for the school paper and receives approval from her peers. Throughout the movie Harriet saw support from her friends, her teacher, her nanny, and her parents. Students need us all to assist them with developing their interests, achieving their dreams, and to encourage them along the way.

Visit our website for more information on how Hobsons can help your school introduce elementary students to the wide world of colleges and careers.


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