When Errin Ford, student at The HOPE Academy, was tasked with writing his future life story, he knew his first move was to obtain his high school diploma. He said, “I have to graduate first so I can make something of myself.”
Tiffany Gibson-Pitts, The HOPE Academy’s Guidance Counselor, is the person who helped the students bring their vision to life through a guided hands-on Vision Board lesson. She said, “I wanted to challenge my students to think beyond what they see in front of them so I decided to start a classroom guidance lesson. It is something we typically do as counselors in small group sessions. The purpose of this activity was to help students plan their future and envision their careers.”
For an entire week, the class was combed through magazines to complete their life story through vision boarding. First, they wrote their future accomplishments in blocks of six topics. Some of the topics included graduation, college, career, relationships, and hobbies. After writing how they see their future, they were then provided a poster board and a stack of magazines to find depictions that they feel will represent their life.
Pitts said her network of friends and colleagues helped provide the newspapers, “I didn’t have very many magazines, but I put out a call to my friends and coworkers on Facebook. They supplied my class with the resources needed to complete the guidance lesson.”
From this classroom event, Pitts stated, “I want them to start thinking about their future. I want them to know they can have anything they want, but they have to set that goal and start working towards meeting the goal. They have to begin shifting their mindset and making different decisions.”
With 17 years of experience as a counselor, Pitts says working with at-risk youth is her passion, “I worked at a detention center for a number of years and I got the calling to teach. I felt that if I were in the schools, I would have been able to introduce some interventions for students that would have allowed them to make different decisions.”
Students planning their future is a part of the intervention plan that Pitts felt was needed, “They are still growing. They are still learning. They need to see a positive future ahead of them, not judgment based on past decisions. I don’t rule them out because they all have an opportunity to become someone successful.”