It’s Time to Educate Society on At Risk Students (by Megan O’Mara)

MeganpicThe community theme, Education, is something that I feel very strong about. Education has so many different definitions and is meaningful to every single person. Every person deserves to have some sort of education; to me, it is a basic need. For my community work, I worked at De La Salle North Catholic High School with the students. I tested them on times tables and helped around the school with filing and other various things. One day, I worked with a student and read a test aloud to him because he was dyslexic and has trouble taking tests. It was very nice to work one on one with a student because I got to know him and spent time with him. The biggest thing I learned was that although some of these students struggle to make ends meet; they are not at risk. This is something that I would hope to get the message out about. We as a community cannot group these students who struggle to make ends meet as at risk students. They are not at risk of anything; they have a desire and passion to complete high school because the school provides them with role models and people who push them to their highest potential. So, how can we, as a community, or the school system help “at-risk students” to succeed to their highest potential?

Providing these students with role models is exactly how we can help them to their highest potential. They need someone to believe in them and show them how amazing it feels to succeed. A lot of the time, these students do not have a support system, so the school needs to provide them that with community (Elias). The school also needs to provide them with goals, or discuss self-goals in the classroom so that these students have something they are working towards (Elias).

There needs to be a finish line, everyone needs this. Accomplishments are what keep the human body going because everyone has a desire to reach the finish line and then move onto the next race. The students need to have faith in themselves and feel self-empowered (Lamperes). If students believe that they can succeed they will succeed.

These students need to be put into the real world along with the classroom. At De La Salle North Catholic High School, the students spend time at a job in a large business and then also take a load of classes. Putting them into the real world allows the students to begin interacting with adults in the business world therefore helping them in the long run. One of my articles I researched discussed this. They talk about how connecting students with businesses can help them succeed (Khadaroo). I believe this is an amazing technique. In high school, you learn math, science, history and english. Students question how this will help them when they need to pay bills, taxes, go through the interviewing process. It doesn’t help them whatsoever, but working in the business world and taking these classes helps them in ways that school can’t.

How to Get Involved

So… How can you get involved? Be a role model. Volunteer at De La Salle North Catholic High School and develop relationships with the students. Be their role model. Allow them to open up to you and share their story. Provide them with love and community. Spend time with them and get to know them on a deeper level. Show them you care about their accomplishments. When they get an A on a test, share the joy of succeeding with them.

Works Cited/Annotated Bibliography

“De La Salle North Catholic High School.” Profile. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Aug. 2015.Elias, Maurice. “The Four Keys to Helping At-Risk Kids.” Edutopia. What Works in Education, 22 Jan. 2009. Web. 10 Aug. 2015. This article talks about the 4 key aspects of reducing risk in the lives of students. It focuses on the 4 things that I believe are the most important. The first one is caring relationships followed by reachable goals. It also has hope and getting involved on the list. The author discusses the importance of mentors and role models. The author has written many blog posts on at-risk students and this was a follow up blog post that is supposed to be an idea of how to help at risk students. This is exactly what my research question is so this article was very helpful.

Khadaroo, Stacy Teicher. “How to Get High School Dropouts into ‘Recovery’?” High School Dropouts. Ed. Judeen Bartos. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. At Issue. Rpt. from “How to get high school dropouts into ‘recovery’? Ideas bloom across US.” The Christian Science Monitor. 2013. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.  This article talks about how to bring dropouts back into the school system. They pair students with businesses and keep them in touch while the student is back in school. It helps the student to have a connection to real-life after they graduate. They provide them with teachers that put in extra effort to make they succeed which is exactly what these students need. The article discusses how they allow them to have flexible schedules and are very honest with the students. They don’t sugar coat and make it easy for them but they stick by them until they succeed.

Lamperes, Bill. “Membership.” Educational Leadership:Strategies for Success:Empowering At-Risk Students to Succeed. ASCD, Nov. 1994. Web. 10 Aug. 2015. This article discusses a discovery program that is meant for at risk students to work there way into full time school. They teach them life skills, provide them with community, and instill expectations. The author discusses how students need to feel self-empowerment and learn life lessons. It discusses how the school works with students to know what is helping and what is not. Establishing a community for these students is how this high school found success in helping at risk students.



  1. Nina

    I’m so grateful for what you’re doing in the community. Education is so important, and the support of young students is key in a successful program.
    I wonder where I could find resources to volunteer at schools? Who would I talk to? Is there a training or registration process?

  2. Anna

    Great essay, Megan! I believe in and agree with everything you have to say, and I think your message is very powerful and one that is overlooked most of the time. Your perspective is very genuine and your words very meaningful. -Anna

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