What do you want for your kids? Do you want them to make good grades, earn a college scholarship, or be voted class president? These are all great steps towards achievement, but shouldn’t they lead to something more? Is it fair to say that we want our kids to be happy, hopeful, and fulfilled people? Yes.
Wylie High junior Xavier Liggins has some physical challenges that could lead many people to lack happiness or hopefulness. However, that is not the case with Xavier. It would be hard to find someone who is happier or more hopeful. His positivity shines like a beacon to everyone around him. Xavier is a trainer for the football team, participates in AFJROTC, and maximizes every aspect of his school experience. He does not wait for his next achievement or recognition to define his happiness. He makes a choice, every single day, to choose a positive attitude. He is an inspiration to those around him.
Psychologist Shawn Achor is a global expert on the science of happiness. He believes that happiness is not found when earning a scholarship, winning a race, or being elected to an office. Instead, happiness is the joy you feel when moving towards your potential. It’s the motivation that surrounds a person’s drive. We have found this to be true in observing many successful people, and we also see it in Xavier. As he participates in various activities, he is utilizing his potential to stay on the path of living a happy life—he has the smile to prove it.
Why are happiness and hopefulness important? Scientific research has proven that hope is the best predictor of student achievement in school; and, after graduation, happiness is the fuel that drives that hopefulness.
Wylie East senior Karaline Klakamp is part of the Wylie ISD teacher training program. She is an amazing individual who will someday become a fantastic teacher—she has even earned a national championship title in educator preparation. Though she has a large amount of potential, Karaline is a quiet and thoughtful kid. Is Karoline happy? You bet! In fact, when she took a survey every other student in grades 5-12 will take on Wednesday, Karaline ranked herself as being exuberant. She is definitely at the top of the happiness scale.
Karaline also scored a 34/36 on the hope scale (another survey every Wylie ISD student in grades 5-12 will take on Wednesday). Why is she so happy and hopeful? To start, she has a social connection to her school. She loves her teachers and her friends, and she participates in extracurricular activities like cheerleading. Achor says social connection is critical to happy people. If he’s right, we know that Karaline is on the road towards fulfilling her potential as a teacher.
On Wednesday, September 13, Xavier, Karaline, and the other 15,700 Wylie ISD students will explore what it means to be happy by:
- Learning the science behind what makes someone happy.
- Measuring their own levels of happiness and hope.
- Discovering their strengths and the ways they can work to become happier.
Once the 5-12 grade students have taken the surveys, they will save their information in a digital Achievement Profile.
This new app will track the students’ survey results, strengths, career goals, and other measurements that keep them moving towards their potential. Throughout the year, students will update their information in the app and track the progress that they’re making. We can’t wait for the students to unlock their potential.
When you are able, please take the time to ask your child about his/her knowledge gained through this experience. Look at your child’s profile and talk with him/her about what it means. This is a great opportunity to have meaningful conversations regarding happiness, hopefulness, and all other aspects that help students move towards their potential. It can even be a way to begin guiding your child to think about college applications and scholarships—the possibilities are endless.
Wylie ISD stands behind our school board goal of Preparing students for a successful life beyond high school. Growing our kids the Wylie Way is more than a standardized test score. It’s about guiding students to better know themselves and realize that happiness and hopefulness are essential components of achieving the life they want to live.
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Great men wrote these words as a foundation for our country. I share their hope for this declaration today. I want our kids to reach for the stars and be happy on the journey—that’s the Wylie Way!