“We need to shift away from the expectation of failure to seeing teen parents as the amazing hard-working, strong adults that they are capable of becoming.”
As a 22-year old, I mentored a teen parent, and was confronted with the lack of support and services, and how fundamentally unfair our system is for teen moms.
Then and since, I’ve come back to the question: How can I use my education and what I’m learning to make a bigger impact for students? I love figuring out how to make things happen and how to work together. I get a lot of energy from being with people, and creatively thinking together.
I believe that public education should be robust – and not just for some students. This stems a lot from the reality that there is a perception that there is “good enough” education for some students. A really meaningful, impactful education should not depend on your background or the choices that you’ve made.
Historically, education for teen parents is “packet of paper” school – and we need better options. I want teen parents to feel supported, and know that their role as parents will not be at odds with their role as students. In fact, these two things can work together.
Lumen is centered on values of belonging, flexibility, understanding, tenacity, and discovery. We want to help teen parents get and stay on a pathway to success in education and life.
There are so many stereotypes that are in line with how teen parents feel about their situation. The prevalent idea that “they’ve made this choice and now they should need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps” is so limiting! We need to shift to see the gift and strength and work ethic. So many teen moms could be the CEOs of major companies – they have the mindsets and drives.
For teen parents at Lumen, it won’t just about surviving, but about thriving. By learning what will help them thrive in their life currently and in their future, students will find meaning in their education –and get out of oppressive systems that hold them captive.
There is so much to learn as an adult in our society. For parents, that involves learning advocacy skills, for one’s self and one’s child. Lumen has plans to partner with Parkview Early Learning, which currently runs a single-site zero-to-five program, to create a second site on Lumen’s campus.
The opportunity for generational change is HUGE, and early learning makes a difference in the long term. A core theme of Lumen’s curriculum will be attachment. We know that for the child, attachment can help overcome adverse childhood issues. It matters for health and self-efficacy, and for feeling secure. Through learning labs twice a week, Lumen students will strengthen their relationships with their children, while learning skills that will make them feel more successful.
There is such a huge gap between what is needed what is currently offered. Teen parents want opportunities that are just as robust as their peers who don’t have children – and Lumen is so excited to serve students in 2020. These students – and their families – can and will be pillars of our community’s next generation.
Learn more at: lumenhighschool.org