EDITORIAL: Different Forms of Success


By Tam News Staff

With graduation on the horizon, there is palpable tension surrounding the oft-asked question “What are you doing next year?” A common assumption at such a high-achieving high school is that all seniors are headed to a four-year university. While some soon-to-be Tam alumni will attend Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley or Princeton, the true measure of success isn’t always in meeting community expectations, but rather in personal achievement.

For some students, the completion of high school is a milestone that should be celebrated for itself alone. In much the same way, there are a variety of post-high school options that can lead to student success and happiness, and none of these options should be overlooked. For example, retiring Jane Hall’s Workplace Learning program (explored in this month’s feature, page 11), has provided kids who need additional support in high school with valuable alternatives to the expected four-year college path.

Hall’s program connects students in her Special Day Class (SDC) with internships and volunteer opportunities for which they receive a small stipend from the district. These internships, which often result in post-high school employment, provide work experience, such as integrity, money management and organizational and interpersonal skills. One student discovered a love of working with the elderly while volunteering at the Redwoods through the Workplace Learning program and is now a marketing director at the senior-assisted living facility Aegis San Rafael. Another student continues in a position at Goodman’s Hardware that started as an internship through the program. These students, and others, have demonstrated work ethics and real-life skills. Success such as theirs should be measured in varying, personal contexts.

This is an idea that can be helpful for everybody to remember. No matter what their future plans are, second semester seniors always seem uncomfortable discussing the topic. We are human, and as such are bound to compare ourselves to others. These comparisons can result in embarrassment, envy and even a sense of inadequacy. Everybody has unique experiences and abilities that shape their successes and failures. One person’s achievements cannot necessarily be compared to others, nor should they be. Individuals should measure their personal success against their own ambitions, since they are the only ones who know the full extent of their capabilities. The only standard that anyone should be held to is his or her own, regardless of what everyone else is doing.

While success comes in many different forms, nobody is successful all the time. Despite our best intentions, failure is inevitable, and we can learn to accept that. Everybody faces struggles at different points in their lives.

This month’s feature illustrates that assistance from people like Jane Hall is vital in helping people who have experienced these struggles earlier than most to find a path and succeed. Support systems allow people to move past these struggles and find success, whatever that may entail. Everybody faces challenges in their lives and Jane Hall’s kids have faced these challenges early at some point in our lives we all need somebody like Hall to help us succeed