Head Full of DREAMS for the Ella P. Stewart Academy

Special to The Truth

In an effort to encourage and inspire the City of Toledo, Ella P. Stewart Academy for Girls, sixth grade students to believe and activate their dreams, find and love their self-worth, actively participate in school, and enjoy the learning process, Diana Patton’s RISE With Diana and the University of Toledo’s Talented Aspiring Women Leaders (TAWL – mentors and mentees) launched the Head Full of Dream program (HFOD) at the academy.

The HFOD’s program was founded by Diana Patton with Rise Advocates™ Academy while she was a board member at the now closed Polly Fox Academy, a school for pregnant and mothering teens. It was founded on the premise that when students are faced with significant adversity, trauma, and hardship, like having a child as a teenager, they have a difficult time trying to concentrate in school. As a result, they often lose interest in school, and they tend to forget about focusing on their dreams, and in most cases, do not dream at all.

They often give up hope, and tend to drop out of school.

How the HFOD’s will work at the Ella P. Stewart Academy:

Students attended a workshop where they learned the value of having dreams, and how to value the unique aspects of themselves. They will then be encouraged to think of what that means, specifically to them, and to write that down and ask their teachers and parents to help them.

Weeks later, students will attend a photo shoot, where they will be pampered with a modest hair and make-up session, and they will be encouraged to write down their dream on a chalkboard. They then will hold the chalkboard and take a photo.  The University of Toledo’s TAWL students, and their mentors, will attend this photoshoot, and they too will be encouraged to take photos with the students.

The single photos of each student will then be placed in a prominent area of the school, entitled the “Head Full of Dreams Wall,” where they will be asked to look at it daily, and where other students will see it.

Then, for each month during the 2020-2021 school year, the Stewart teachers will select an HFOD’s Student of the Month. In order for dreams to become a reality, it takes work, discipline, and a positive attitude. Students will be chosen for this monthly award based on the following categories: attendance, attitude, character, and work ethic.

Each month, HFOD’s Student of the Month will be featured on social media and, when available, appear on a local news outlet, and receive other incentives throughout the month. At the end of the school year, ALL sixth-grade students will be celebrated at Head Full of Dreams Year-End Celebration.

In addition to the special recognition for the chosen Dreams Take Wing Student of the Month, the TAWL mentors and mentees will join the Ella sixth grade students for a bi-weekly Focus Topic. These focus topics may include subjects such as mental health, self-worth, discipline and stamina, resilience, forgiveness and grace, beauty (hair, nails, etc), etiquette, speaking up and having a voice, and other areas of focus as determined after conducting monthly need assessments.

Ideally, each Ella student will be paired with a TAWL student, in a mentor/mentee relationship, in order to allow for a deeper connection.

Throughout various times during the year, students, teachers, and TAWL mentors and mentees, and parents (where appropriate), will be asked to take a brief survey to gain feedback on the effectiveness of the HFOD program.

An end of the year celebration will take place in May 2022, to recognize all of the students, teachers, and parents, for all of their hard work.