Beyond the Grades

I graduated from a high-rated private school in 1990 a full-blown alcoholic.

Age seventeen, bound for college.  Good grades, good on the sports field, but a zero at obeying the law and living my life.

I have a conceived of a way for schools to avoid the catastrophe of graduating young people who are not balanced, proper citizens.  I call the program “Beyond the Grades,” and it involves one-on-one student/counselor meetings that happen Fall of 8th grade, Fall of 10th grade, and a final check-in Spring of 12th grade.

Before any decent school gives a piece of paper commending or commencing a student, from 8th grade or 12th or whenever:

The one-on-ones would be a check to be sure the institution KNEW WHO THE CHILD WAS, so that they could be of maximum service to the child.

Before 8th grade, schools should seek to support student’s dreams, ask about “What you want to do” or “be” in life…

Beyond the Grades represents a change, where students come before adult instructors and administrators.  We start listening to them, and if problems are detected, recommendations should be made to the child and parents alike.

A one on one with me in 8th grade could have revealed alcohol-drinking habits, a lack of understanding of intimacy, honesty and relationships—an overall dysfunction at social life.

But I did not have such a one-on-one.  And what happened to me after graduating?

Within ten years I was suicidally depressed, overdosing on drugs.

Sober nearly sixteen years now, I call on schools to do better; to know your children better.

Tackle and confront problems while they are still manageable and solvable.

Never risk your brand, help kids achieve their dreams, and take time to smell the roses, sit across from our students and dream with them a fuller, more healthy success.

—Bill Watkins