Start, Stop, Continue and Change in 2018

Resolutions do not work for me. I make them, I break them. Now, I use four words to help me sketch out my coming year: Start, Stop, Continue and Change. Thinking of all of the items on my bucket list (whittling it down slowly), what do I want to start this year? I want my calendar at the end of the year to show fun activities with friends on a regular basis. It may reveal a brunch with my friend Kia Walker on New Year’s Eve day, visiting my BFF, Karen Carvalho-Franks, in my home state of Rhode Island or talking almost daily with my sister from another mother, Antoinette Battiste, as we solve the world’s problems and some of our own. Number 1 on the stop list is negative self-talk. You know that ticker tape of “oh no’s” running through your head when no one is around but your thoughts. I will continue bringing value to families who are taking steps to maneuver through the college planning process. I want to continue seeing the world through the eyes of my “adopted grandchildren” (waiting patiently for my own in the meantime) as we spend time together watching movies or making cookies. Over the Christmas break, the oldest of the four and I watched STEP, a documentary about a step dance from an all-girls charter school in Baltimore. 

What will I change? I will heed something I read recently – “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” I will put on my oxygen mask first. It is that simple. Will I find that challenging? No doubt. I am counting on you to let me know if you see that mask slipping.

Loving my work as a volunteer with the Chillax Teen program at a local branch library in the Cumberland County Public Library system and maintaining those relationships is high on my list for 2018. Ranging from 6th grade to 12th grade, some of the pre-teens and teens had their own views on stopping, starting, continuing and changing.   Let me share some of their thoughts with you.

A.J. – 9th grade: Start working out; stop not studying as much as I should; continue dancing; change my outlook on friendship.

T.R. – 7th grade: Start reading books; stop getting C’s; continue to be good; change from playing games so much.

W.T. – 9th grade: Start getting all A’s; stop getting B’s; continue getting good grades; change my not so good grades.

D. M. – 11th grade: Start doing my homework in time instead of 1st period; stop procrastinating; continue getting better at math; change more things in my room.

A.D. – 6th grade: Start talking to more people; stop being alone and sitting alone at lunch; continue getting all A’s and B’s; change my hair color.

T.F. – 7th grade: Start doing better in school in my science and math classes; stop talking so much; continue doing good in all of the other classes; change some of the people I’m around.

H.E. – 11th grade: Start studying harder; stop staying up late; continue working hard; change my habits.

I find it fascinating to listen to students reflect on who they are and who they are becoming. I wonder about A.D. sitting alone at lunch. Will that change in the coming year? For many of the students in Chillax, grades are a recurring theme and sometimes, there are spirited conversations about their future selves. Other times, they just want to play games (board, cards and video) with their friends or hang out and talk while enjoying each other’s company. My goal is to give them as many opportunities as they will take to sift through the sands of change, connecting the dots along the way.

What does 2018 hold in store for you? Are you taking steps to live the future you envision? Four short words provide a simple framework. Try them on for size and let me know how it works for you.

Photography Credit: Small Frye Photography

May 2021 Update

Professional development continues to be a major factor in my work life. With physical visits to campuses curtailed during 2020 (most are re-opening for in-person visits), I spend about 7 -10 hours per week on virtual visits with college admission counselors. The IECA, one of my professional organizations, regularly conducts College Conversations, an hour-long presentation with time built in for Q & A. To date, members of IECA had sessions with the colleges on the chart. Additionally, I added to this list by facilitating sessions in my capacity as the college counselor for the Montessori School of Raleigh where, along with the students, we learned more about UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, the College of Wooster, Queens University of Charlotte, Muhlenberg, Elon, Western Carolina, North Carolina Central, the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Did you know UNC Wilmington has a major in Coastal Engineering or that Western Carolina (along with UNC Pembroke and Elizabeth City State) is a NC Promise institution? A NC Promise school’s in-state tuition is $500 while non-residents pay $2500 per semester.

Our virtual world allows for hours upon hours of accessible college information sessions. I had to step back and limit myself to a reasonable number of hours of “college visits”.

I challenge my students regularly to move beyond their comfort zone and during the height of the pandemic, I stretched myself way beyond my level of comfort. I am one of 14 co-authors of Becoming The Shero, an anthology depicting the journeys of entrepreneurs at different stages of their lives. My story is in the Embracing the Pivot section.

Another way I stay current is through my new position at Providence College. As of August 2020, I am the College Supervisor for the School Counseling Program. What does the college supervisor do? I supervise the students in the program during their 2-semester internship at a school, where they are directly supervised by their Site Supervisor, a certified professional school counselor. It is the student teaching equivalent for school counseling.

Reading is a daily pleasure for me. Here are nine books (not in chronological order) that helped me to educate myself about current events and issues of social justice:

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents ~ Isabel Wilkerson
  • How to Be An Anti-Racist ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • Stamped From The Beginning ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • I’m Still Here ~ Austin Channing Brown
  • The Color Of Law ~ Richard Rothstein
  • We Want To Do More Than Survive ~ Bettina Love
  • Down Along With That Devil’s Bones ~ Connor Towne O’Neill
  • Interrupting Racism: Equity and Social Justice in School Counseling ~ Rebecca Atkins & Alicia Oglesby
  • Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race ~ Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.

To stay up-to-date on trends in college, career and paying for college, see my list of books under the “Parent Resources” tab.

I challenge my students to be lifelong readers. I am practicing what I preach. What are you reading today?

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