Saturday, July 21 , 2018, 3:25 am | Overcast 64º


John Daly: How You Can Make a Difference

It is always my intention to provide readers valuable takeaways in this weekly column. But I feel that this particular article should give the community-at-large an even bigger boost because it targets a way for all of us to help our youth.

In Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent David Cash’s recent report on the state of the district, he indicated that the current drop-out rate is nearly one out of 10 students.

With this in mind, The Key Class, which I founded and operate as a nonprofit in formation, is intended to reduce this number by helping students gain the self confidence and the belief in self to have hope for their futures and to continue their education, graduate and move forward.

In the summer of 2014, Dr. Cash extended an invitation to The Key Class to become part of the high school curriculum, in grades nine through 12. At that time, I devoted this column to give everyone an update.

We had piloted The Key Class at select schools the year before, and that led to Dr. Cash’s invitation because he felt that independence and success often remains elusive. In their place is disappointment, frustration and despondency, but he felt that students who have taken The Key Class would continue their education with a new sense of hope and confidence that they can find success and happiness.

Here are his exact words:

“We have found The Key Class provides a break-through opportunity for students to learn many life skills that we simply have not had the expertise or curriculum to deliver ...

“John Daly has created a comprehensive, integrated and important curriculum that all of our students will enjoy and benefit from as they transition from teenagers to young adults.

“The Key Class has given students a coordinated program that is developmentally appropriate for students in grades nine through 12, and we have had such phenomenal responses.”

Prior to that, we taught more than 6,850 students from 2010 through 2014, beginning with 100 students in 2010, 750 in 2011, 1,500 in 2012, 2,000 in 2013 and 2,500 in 2014. We are on target to teach 5,000 students in the calendar year 2015.

It is important to note that this has all been done by one individual, John Daly. Can you imagine what can be accomplished with the support of the Santa Barbara community to enable me to train teachers and expand to even more students with the desire and need for these skills?

Why Is This Needed?

The youth of today and tomorrow are coming of age in an economy that demands certain skills and abilities. So many are disheartened by an inability to succeed in the competitive environment they are facing.

In addition, many have grown up with the ideology of making a difference in the world but they don’t always know how. Many have observed leaders like Bill Gates who has taken his success and fortune and poured it back into worthy causes.

Often social skills can make all the difference in a young person being chosen from a pool of applicants or being successful in their endeavors. Self-esteem grows from service well done.

The Key Class nurtures the basic need for approval. It provides a strategy for students to follow to find success and happiness with others.

Our students truly do want to feel like productive contributors. They don’t want dependence on parents or government programs. They want independence and opportunity, and The Key Class shows the way to capture them. 

This will flood our society, our community with positive, eager youth ready to tackle their world, their jobs and their lives. Can you imagine how that can create a better society?

Change of the magnitude we are describing requires the understanding and support of our community. There are so many who have been asking what can be done for the young people of today and tomorrow. What can we do to create a better society?

Only apathy would keep us from truly moving forward. The skills taught in The Key Class are enablers of a successful life of service, enjoyment, achievement and meaning. What greater gift could we give to our young people? 

Grants and donations to this program will change lives dramatically. Individual donors and foundations have the power to give hope and guidance to teens and young adults, as well as the power to help students make wise life choices.

The power to give young people the tools they need to lead healthy, intelligent, productive lives is in our hands.

Many of them have not been taught how to deal with financial problems, relationships, family challenges and personal crises. Most of them don’t know how to interact with adults properly or how to dress or behave when it really matters. We have the ability to give them the self-confidence to execute these skills. 

The Key Class Objectives

During the 2016-2017 academic year, The Key Class will deliver program instruction to an estimated 6,000 SBUSD high school students in classrooms and 800 teens in community settings.

We will:

» Deliver an estimated 48,000 hours of contact and education (6,000 students at 8 hours each) to SBUSD students, and 6,400 hours to 800 teens in community settings

» Affect changes in knowledge and behavior as measured through evaluations, testimonials and testing

» Train additional instructors to deliver the curriculum

Grants and donations partially cover the cost to train and pay new instructors, prepare materials, present the curriculum and provide the administrative assistance required to produce and provide The Key Class curriculum. The cost to adapt The Key Class program is $50 per student for eight hours of training. That’s $6.50 per hour to change the lives of our youth.

The Key Class collaborates with Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD), Teen Court, the Santa Barbara County Probation Department, Workforce Development Board of Santa Barbara County, United Way of Santa Barbara County’s Fun in the Sun, United Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County, Carpinteria Cares for Youth, as well as Santa Barbara Partners in Education’s Intern program, to name a few.

No other organization is providing the curriculum developed by The Key Class, and that is why the SBUSD has adopted The Key Class for its students.

The Key Class staff and board members regularly discuss curriculum, program delivery, budgets, special projects and issues  during meetings. Students and teachers complete evaluation forms, and staff evaluate their comments and concerns.

The staff also meets with teachers and administrators to ensure that The Key Class is available and delivered within the curriculum requirements in each grade level. These same discussions and evaluations are conducted with community groups receiving The Key Class curriculum.

Why Is This Curriculum Critical to the Future of Santa Barbara?

Perhaps Bill Woodard, assistant principal of curriculum/instruction at Dos Pueblos High School, says it best:

“John Daly’s Key Class is just that — a class on all the ‘key’ components that students need when they enter the workforce or begin to interact with adults in the ‘real world.’

“Whether it’s teaching them the importance of the handshake, knowing how to use a napkin and why it belongs on the lap, or preparing them to market themselves for a job interview, John’s program has a direct impact on our students’ self-confidence.

“There is no other place in our current school curriculum for developing these skills, and many of our students are learning about these vital life skills for the first time.

“Students learn how important it is to be professional. They learn how to interact with each other and with adults in positive ways; they learn how to deal with conflict and stress in ways that are not self-destructive.

“But what I feel is the most important benefit is that John’s enthusiasm for the students and his belief in their future success is contagious. Students start to care about how they present themselves and how they can better prepare themselves for their life after high school.

“I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from teachers, students and counselors about the vital role The Key Class plays on our campus. We hope to continue our partnership with John for as long as he is willing and able to bring the program to our school.”

Funding this program will keep the momentum going and allow The Key Class to reach a minimum of 6,800 students per year. That’s more than 30,000 youth in the next five years.

Let’s get started today. Please join with us in making a revolutionary change in the education of our young people. We all know how much they need it.

Want to know how you can make a difference? Contact me via [email protected] or click here to sponsor a student! The Santa Barbara Foundation is currently taking donations until our new 501(c)(3) in process is complete. Checks can be made out to The Santa Barbara Foundation/Key Class Fund and mailed to 1482 East Valley Road, No. 444, Santa Barbara 93108.

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the keys to life skills success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or to buy his book. John’s new book, 74 Key Life Skills for a Happy, Successful Life, will be out this fall. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook and follow John on Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have a question about business or social etiquette? Ask John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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