Jeremy Gaden's Page

Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools North Carolina

Jeremy Gaden's Page

As a first year Teaching Fellow I lead a group of 20 6th grade boys.  During a lesson last week where we focus on building college readiness skills, I asked my students to write down their dream careers and was once again amazed and inspired by what my students want to accomplish in their lives.  Derick wrote that he wants to be a heart and kidney surgeon.  Elijah wants to be a NASA astronaut or a pilot.  Ben wrote that he wants to be an engineer.  And Jackie wrote that he wants to be a crime scene investigator.  Yet, these 20 6th grade boys are at important crossroads in their journey to achieving their dreams as well as the American dream.

I recently read an article in Time magazine titled “Whatever Happened to Upward Mobility,” by Rana Foroohar.  Foroohar states that the chance of achieving the American dream, which is defined as being a member of the middle class, “is tied to a complex mix of geography, race, health and education.”  When looking at the chance of achieving the American dream solely on the level of education achieved in one’s life, Foroohar found that those with just basic reading and math skills developed in their middle school years, with no high school or post-secondary education, have just a 44% chance of achieving the American dream.  Those with a high school diploma with a GPA greater than 2.5 have a 77% chance of achieving the American dream.  One has an even better chance of reaching the American dream if one earns a high school diploma and a post-secondary degree.  Put simply, the more education one achieves, the more likely they will be successful in life.

So my students right now are at a crossroads.  It is so important for students to not only progress through middle school, but to also be proficient in math, science and English language arts so that they are prepared for high school.  Through participation in Citizen Schools, students like Derick, Elijah, Ben and Jackie are able to develop their academic skills necessary to further their education and become lifelong learners.  They are exposed to new and exciting careers through a unique college readiness curriculum and participation in relevant, real world learning activities led by community professionals.  They also have another caring adult supporting them in their journey.  Through participation in Citizen Schools, students see first-hand that hard work and achievement are interrelated, and that they can achieve their dream careers and accomplish anything that they set out to do.

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