Cynthia, Counselor @ High School, CA
I think school should give all of you students a foundation of respect and responsibility. Respect from your teachers, and responsibility because you have to show up and really be here. Schools should give you that.
It should also help you develop the habits of heart you need to be empathetic toward others.
Cynthia is a counselor at a high school in California. She was interviewed by a students, Isaiah and Jose, as part of a #schoolpartnership project with REENVISIONED, in which students interview each other and adults in their lives, and reflect together on school and what makes a good life.
Take a moment to think about a child you care about when you're ready tell me about the child.
Okay, the child I’m thinking of has been through a lot. She's experienced a lot through her life, and she needs to know that she should continue to get the help she needs in order to continue going to school, and have a job, and be well with herself.
If I can ask what is your relationship to them how do you know them?
I know them through school.
What kind of things do they enjoy the most?
Listening to music.
What would you say makes them the most unique or special?
I think the fact that she is so kind. She is very caring towards others and just makes an effort to to really respect herself and those around her.
Do you think that they're happy?
No, I don’t.
Could you explain?
This person and has been through a lot, and I think she is trying to find her happiness. She is working on it at this moment.
Now, imagine that child is now in their thirties, out of school starting into adult life. What do you hope for them about their life? What would make it a good or successful life?
Figuring out what they want and sticking to it. I think being happy - content with herself and getting over some the trauma or struggles she’s been through.
I notice you used the word happy in your answer, do you care to elaborate what that means to you?
I know, that's a difficult one. Happy meaning that she knows who she is, that she’s able to respect herself and figure out how to say, “yes, these things happened to me, yes it's difficult to deal with – but, you know what, I am strong and moving forward.
Move on in life?
Yes, because I know this person wants to do a lot with their lives – she wants to be successful and have a job and be able to move out of her house – that would really help her with her self esteem.
Is there anything you worry about getting in the way of them achieving that good life?
Yes - if she doesn't continue to get the help she needs to heal, that that might get in the way of her not overcoming what she’s been through. I don’t think she’s ever going to overcome one hundred percent, but she’ll be able to cope with the feelings - they're always gonna rise up, the feelings. But it’s important to see them and not accept that it’s the end, but work through them.
Ideally, what role do you think schooling should play in achieving that ideal good life?
I think school should give all of you students a foundation of respect and responsibility. Respect from your teachers, and responsibility because you have to show up and really be here. Schools should give you that. It should also help you develop the habits of heart you need to be empathetic toward others.
Will schools play this ideal role for the student you’re thinking of? Why or why not?
In some ways yeah because we're giving students the opportunity to seek services and we try to make them feel comfortable coming every day - showing up and doing the work and finding different adults they can talk to when maybe they're not having a good day ow when things come up. And I think, related to the habits of heart part, here we do create a somehwat better environment for it compared with a traditional high school. We have so many adults who care – not just the teachers, but the support staff.
Will schools play the role you think it should for all children – in what ways yes and no?
I don’t want to condemn it, but you know there are kids that go to big traditional high schools and are on track, getting things academically right, they have a counselor checking in with them to make sure they have the right recommendation and everything. But then you have those other kids that are not really going to school - you know they're not going to school and then they they often don’t get checked in on and asked, “Hey, what’s going on at home?” or, “would you like to come into this AP class and give it a try?” They are really getting different experiences. Even here we have some who show up and do the work and some I worry about who aren’t showing up and aren’t getting checked in on. So I think there are some kids for whom it won’t play that role.
10,000 Stories. One Shared Vision.
REENVISIONED is a national movement to redefine the purpose of school. We believe schools should foster flourishing individuals and a thriving democratic society. But what does it mean to thrive or flourish?
To answer this, we're building the world's largest collection of stories about what it means to live good lives and the role schools should play in helping create them: 10,000 stories from people across the country. We'll use the stories to learn about our shared values and dreams and to create a new vision for why we send our children to school.
We work with people like YOU across the country: Catalysts - individuals, classrooms, schools, and community organizations - who interview people in their communities and foster empathy nationwide by sharing the stories on our website and social media: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (@reenvisioned).