Saving Student Lives One Story at a Time
Helping bridge the mind and heart in high schools and colleges
“If you want to understand, start with the story.
If you want to learn to love, start with yourself.”
by Anthony Valentine
I sit in in the back of the ambulance on a patient transfer from the Children’s Hospital to a mental health facility and listen as she recounts the situation that brought her here. During this moment I become her therapist. Her dream is to become a social worker. She is a sixteen-year-old high school student, in an educational community where she feels her voice is ignored, in a school of many where she is one of few. Her peers call her racial slurs and her teachers are emotionally insensitive. She is bullied every day. She then shares her desire to commit suicide. The year is 2018.
Two months later, our paths crossed again. She was now in a behavioral unit and this encounter was different. There was a smile that radiated from her face, a glow that survived the depression of her past. She called out to me, noticing me before I noticed her. “I am doing so much better,” she said, “Thank you for everything!” The “everything” I had done was to listen to her, to see her. That matters.
Recognizing an Emotional Void
I am 25 now and I’ve worked two years on the ambulance following the completion of my biology degree. Conversations like this were no longer foreign to me. Every second I spend with students from different walks of life and different cultural, racial, or ethnic backgrounds, confirms for me the void students feel. This void is a reflection of the reversible social and emotional void in our society and the culture within our schools.
A student who is academically nurtured without being fed socially is a student who will fail to thrive. As our world devolves into chaos in many ways, our students continue to feel the daily impact and self-esteem stagnates. This deficit in self-esteem will jeopardize the success of any student, no matter the district.
The question of purpose is a question that we have to explore for ourselves. It is a question that directs the course of our life and validates our efforts as educators, influencers and community organizers.
The Rise of KultureMAG
For the past two years, I’ve devoted my life to addressing the social and emotional needs of high school and college-aged youth through a publication called Kulture Magazine. Low self-esteem, lack of direction and social-emotional stagnation are just a few of the conditions with which today’s students are continually grappling. After the successful partnering with 25+ high schools in the Northeastern region of the country, Kulture Magazine has become a valuable resource for helping to fill the void in student growth and character development. It’s a valuable resource for both content-driven classrooms and character and socioemotional-driven advisories.
KultureMAG is an educational lifestyle print publication that serves the purpose of informing, guiding and encouraging the high school audience. It promotes developing leadership attributes, self-confidence, and self-empowerment through original content (art, poetry, articles) and other artistic creations, both linguistic and visual. KultureMAG was created with the intention of inspiring and engaging the youth through culturally relevant and aesthetically progressive content that aligns with youth culture and appeals to our audience. The content is supported with lessons plans created for classroom use that align with common core standards. Kulture itself is inspired by the youth, created with the purpose of fostering teacher-led interactions between students, the art of the magazine, and the content of a class. Its ultimate goal is the breaking down of arbitrary societal limitations such as race, sex, and socioeconomic status.
A partner of KultureMAG recently stated, “KultureMAG is the future of education and character development for students nationwide” and I strongly believe KultureMAG is a great resource for students across our nation. In addition to the magazine and lesson plans, a series of seminars and assemblies known as KultureTalks have been developed and designed to motivate students to think about their mental health as well as the health and culture of their surroundings.
The conversation of purpose and identity is one that we have all engaged in, and as we fulfill our assignments in the world, let us not forget why we do what we do, and who we do it for. Life is half mind, and half heart and the educational system is tasked with teaching students nationwide how to navigate between the two.
Everyone has a story. It is the responsibility of each one of us to take the time to listen to each other. When we listen to other’s stories and share our own, we will nourish both our heart and mind, and that is what it means to be a part of the Kulture.