How Do We Focus on Freshmen?

In high schools that are implementing our full sequence of activities, we offer our Stormy Wannabees Advantage Initiative to students in ninth and tenth grade.

For students in freshmen year, our Stormy Wannabees Initiative consists of four PowerPoint presentations from our exclusive G.R.I.T. curriculum and three unique activities, all of which work together to enhance understanding, add experiential learning opportunities, and provide an ‘Advantage’ to participating students.

For ninth graders, our Wannabees program presents general information about business, the workplace and the workforce, and what employers want in people they hire. To do this, we have developed our exclusive G.R.I.T. curriculum, which emphasizes the need for students to develop ‘grit’ (also known as tenacity, perseverance, doggedness). But the name of our curriculum also comes from key points we make in the presentations that relate to the other things employers (and colleges) value the most:

is for Growth (a commitment to lifelong learning)

R is for Responsibility (meeting all commitments)

I is for Integrity (honesty, honor, decency)

T is for Time-Awareness (punctual, deadlines always met)

G.R.I.T. virtual presentations inspire teacher-led discussions that will help guide students as they navigate their lives as underclassmen. The information in our curriculum will help students understand their world as it is now and how it might change in the future. Ultimately, we don’t make decisions for students. We don’t tell them what to think. We help them understand how to think and where to gather data that will inform their thinking in a way that will help them make the best decisions possible. We ask school officials to use our four presentations as classroom lessons in targeted subjects (English or Mathematics) and require students to complete the assignments included in the lessons.

The Stormy Wannabees Advantage Initiative also defines a very important set of activities on which students can focus during their years in high school that will also build the content of their résumés. Once those parameters are defined and discussed, many of the activities offered in our program for next three years bow to the definitions and directions we give to freshmen. In fact, many of the activities in our very diverse high school program were specifically designed to provide the experiences students can use to build résumé content.

Almost every set of state standards in English requires students to write a résumé in senior year. English teachers focus a great deal of energy and effort in helping students construct their résumés using ‘standard’ formatting. While the résumé as a one-page document may soon be extinct (thanks to the dozens of online job search sites that ask a series of questions which applicants need to answer and in the process, convert their résumés into essays), the content embedded in the answers or on the one-page résumé is what counts. It is the quality and uniqueness of the student’s notable experience that is far more important that the format which showcases those experiences (one-page document or online questionnaire). Thus, no matter whether an individual applies for a job via resume or online, he or she will need an actual record of accomplishment.

And that’s where our Stormy Wannabees Advantage Initiative is completely unique. We make sure students know they have to begin building the content they will need for their résumés immediately — starting in freshman year.

  1. This first activity, described above, is called ‘Strengthen Your Core.’ We show freshmen how they can quantify their current and future academic and social performance with data over the course of the next three years to build a better story for the résumés they will need to write in senior year. This presentation is best used rooted English class.
  2. After an introduction that sets the scene for our second activity, students ‘Run the Numbers’ using spreadsheet software to make decisions (a common business practice) about their future college choices/attendance costs/potential careers/student loan plans. This presentation is best used in Mathematics classes held in a computer lab, where students can use common spreadsheet software to quantify a set of variables. Once students use our ‘research template,’ they can use it for real as they age though high school and have to make real decisions about post-secondary education.
  3. Our third freshman year activity is the Stormy Wannabees Design Challenge. This ‘tons-of-fun’ activity asks teams of students to dream up a unique product and compete for best idea and presentation. Teams work remotely in the evenings or weekends using their cell phones/emails. Winners are selected by the Site Director and local business volunteers. Participating students engage in a peer review process within teams, which is preceded by a ‘Language Counts!’ life lesson.

Learn More about our full Sequence of Activities Across Grades and Programs.