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Seasoned Envoys Share the Secrets
Written by Samantha Keefe
The Memphis City Envoy Project is an innovative approach to education reform that empowers student leaders to spread a culture of achievement among their peers in their own ways. This program teaches central Efficacy principles that help develop all children to high standards and prepare them for leadership.
Student Envoys Jaylin McCaster and Fabiana Robinson are not new to the Envoy Project. They are high school juniors who have been part of the project since its inception three years ago. Both students have brought the project with them as they matriculated from middle to high school, sharing the five secrets to leading a quality life with countless classmates and teachers. In keeping with this issue’s theme that “Failure and Difficulty Are Feedback,” or FADAF (a major tenet of the Envoy Project and Efficacy Institute’s philosophy), we asked them how they have used FADAF as Envoys and how they plan to use it during their current school year.
Jaylin McCaster and some fellow Envoys at Craigmont High had started a mentoring group early last year to tutor freshmen who repeatedly showed low math scores. This group utilizes student Envoys as mentors, and generally assigns at least three students to each group. Once a week, the group meets and focuses on providing one-on-one attention as they help students set goals and be accountable for them. McCaster says that he and his fellow Envoys request that the students they mentor and tutor bring their report cards with them so they can measure progress. “One of the biggest successes we have seen was being able to watch the students’ grades dramatically improve,” McCaster says.
While the program and the students it serves are thriving now, Jaylin and his fellow Envoys ran into difficulties as they were initially creating it. “We had to use FADAF many times with our mentoring program,” McCaster said. One particular issue he remembers is that “we had a very difficult time trying to get students to stay in the classroom. So we used FADAF to set up a plan that would help solve our problem of students leaving.” By encountering failure with the right attitude, McCaster and his fellow Envoys have created a tool to strengthen their fellow classmates, their school, and themselves.
McCaster doesn’t just use FADAF to help others though. He uses it for himself, too, inside and outside his academic life. Already this year, he has used it during pre-calculus. “I failed a test in pre-calculus,” he said, “I used my old test as data and feedback and took the test again and passed it!” Outside of school, McCaster is resolving to use FADAF in a more personal way. “One of my major goals for this year is to lose weight,” he says. “I’ve tried to lose weight many times before, but I always seem to fail. So this year I plan on using FADAF to figure out how I can have a better strategy in order to achieve my goal.” McCaster’s success thus far has been inspiring, but it is his future goals that really demonstrate the power of FADAF.
Fabiana Robinson is also currently harnessing the power of FADAF. “FADAF has become my new best friend. I had a big test in math and didn’t do my greatest. I made a 69 on the quiz and first I wanted to give up and not try to strive for greatness, but I remembered FADAF. I applied that Efficacy secret and asked the teacher if I could retake the test. If I didn’t know that secret, I would have stayed with an F. I took the test again and made a 94 and I was so proud that I used that secret.
As a junior at Wooddale High School, Robinson is true leader and a pillar of strength among the Envoy team. As a student Envoy, Robinson says, “I love helping others and am always willing to extend a helping hand. When I see that a classmate is down because of a score, I usually try to cheer him or her up…I help to set up a strategy so the next time he or she will be ready and prepared to ace the test or quiz.”
This school year, Robinson plans to draw upon FADAF to achieve two major goals. First, she wants to become a member of the National Honor Society at her school. Robinson has already been working very hard since the beginning of the school year to achieve that goal. Robinson’s second goal is twofold. “I want to score a 22-28 on my ACT and get into a great school.”
Lofty, impactful goals like Robinson’s and McCaster’s illustrate the power of FADAF. With confidence in their abilities to apply FADAF to their tough goals, these student Envoys are feeling excited about their school year. Unburdened by anxiety about failure or difficulty, Robinson and McCaster can eagerly focus reaching new heights, like getting high scores on the ACT. Through the lens of FADAF, they see this school year as one of promise. This year, both students will vow to look at failure or difficulty as feedback so they can achieve goals that will truly change their lives— getting into a great school and losing weight. Perhaps the best part of Robinson and McCaster’s stories is the promise it brings to others’ lives. Seeing FADAF dramatically improving their lives provides inspiration. We can find ourselves, our teachers, our parents, and our community setting lofty goals, too. How will you use FADAF to change your life this year?
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