I’m lucky. 

In my role I have the awesome opportunity to work with so many students who show me true strength, perseverance and growth. They overcome great obstacles such as illness, loss of loved ones and learning disabilities. Somehow through it all, these students go on to achieve great academic success, and I couldn’t be prouder or happier for them.

With this luck, I also understand that it is my responsibility, and that of the entire University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) staff, to help our students find this courage—the courage that helps so many of them overcome whatever personal obstacles they are facing.

To start, it is important to understand that entering our school alone is a sign of internal courage. Though education through distance and online learning is growing in “popularity,” it is not the norm. Specifically, in the case of UNHS, the rigor of our courses is rarely matched.

Through online education students are also required to communicate with people who they do not see. Through our school, students build relationships with our teachers who they converse with throughout course activities and assignments. Students must learn to be assertive in this relationship—asking for help as they need it. 

Though I work with students to choose courses, ultimately the choice is up to them. Learning to challenge themselves academically—forcing themselves to take on courses that will require additional effort—is a sign of courage and builds character. I always encourage students to follow their passions and interests, but also to push themselves a bit out of their comfort zones.

Finally, it takes courage to admit something isn’t working. Maybe this is what drove a student to enroll with UNHS or maybe throughout their online experience they learn that the study methods and tools they have been using are not helping them gain the results they want. 

Students need to have the courage and patience to take the time to learn how they learn best. Changing habits is a challenging task, but may prove to be a useful one, especially as they take on more demanding courses.

All of this being said, I think it is fair to say that with a lot of courage and hard work, many of our students don’t need luck to reach their goals.