Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Perpetual Growth: Why Investing in Kids Pays Off


"Nothing that you have not given away will ever truly be yours." ~ C. S. Lewis

Last week marked the end of another successful semester of Invest in Kids at the Carroll School of Management. Invest in Kids is a tutor/mentorship program sponsored by the Carroll School and its graduate students. Each week, approximately 35 'at-risk' middle school children from the Brookline Public School system arrive on the Boston College campus to work one-on-one with volunteer tutors from our MBA, MSF, and MSA programs. Invest in Kids partners with Steps to Success, a comprehensive school success and college readiness program that serves low-income youth from the fourth grade through their high school graduation. 

This year, I, along with classmates Michelle Pinnette and Kim Clark, have stepped up as the co-directors of the program. Together, we planned some fantastic sessions for the kids including a campus-wide scavenger hunt, a tour of BC's varsity athletic facilities, and a Minute to Win It themed Christmas Party.With the stress of school, project deadlines, final exams, and internship and job searching, it is very easy to become consumed by our academic lives. For those students involved in Invest in Kids, life is given new perspective as we join together for a few hours each week to support and guide those kids most in need of mentorship. While it can be hard, often frustrating work, nothing is more rewarding than to see a young individual realize his or her own potential and succeed in achieving those goals set at the beginning of the semester. For many of these kids, higher education is not believed to be an option. Over the course of a semester, several of these students will realize that they do have the intelligence to make college a reality, the ability to get on the basketball team, or the talent to audition for the school play. Sometimes, all it takes is some patience, positive reinforcement, and encouragement to show a young mind the world of possibilities that lie ahead. While not every scenario results in a Hallmark Hall of Fame happy ending, it is those small moments of growth, development, and self-realization that makes the program worth it for the tutors and students, alike. 

This past month, classmates Kevin Cuomo (U.S. Naval Academy grad) and Matt Horne (Holy Cross NROTC alumnus) spoke to the kids about the personal and professional sacrifices that service men and women make for their country. Following the presentation, the kids made greeting cards for the troops expressing well wishes and gratitude for their service, especially during this time of year. 

In an effort to bring Invest in Kids programming into the 21st century, a good friend of mine and Boston University film student, Austin Paquette, joined us to film a holiday greeting for those troops overseas. See the greeting below. As many of you know, I direct quite a bit of theater on the side. An ephemeral art form like theater is ideal for a perfectionist like myself where "Take 38" is not an option. Believe me when I say that  I was shocked when our nearly three dozen middle schoolers nailed our group Christmas greeting in one take. That being said, we did two more takes for good measure. I mean - would you expect any less from me? The group's ability to listen, stay focused, and deliver has almost made me reconsider my vow to never direct children and animals. Note I said almost. Merry Christmas!

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