Connect for Success was a program for students enrolled in Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) as a way to build relationships between students and staff in a safe learning environment. Connect for Success was established due to student responses to a survey that CCPS released during the 2020-2021 school year. The results made it evident that students felt disconnected in the classroom and the program was put into effect to combat this. 

This was my first year as a student in the newly mandated Connect for Success program. When starting attendance in the class, I was skeptical about Connect for Success’ objective. After a handful of classes and learning “The 7 Habits,” I soon realized how beneficial the curriculum truly was.

One goal of Connect for Success was to “provide an environment where students can become College, Career and Life Ready.” This goal was accomplished through the resources and lessons that taught students basic skills including analyzing and accessing their report card. By learning to do this task, students can prepare for future activities such as college applications and preparation for what grades are needed to go on to a further education. Before attending the program, I was unaware of the importance of keeping up with school work and how much it can affect the following years of high school. Now, I come into class with the mindset that every grade matters, especially if I want to receive a scholarship for college in the future. 

The program also included learning how to prepare for the future outside of an educational aspect. In my ninth grade Connect for Success curriculum, we learned how to properly set goals for what we want to accomplish later on in our life. This included listing items or components of our life that mean the most to us and describing where we would like to see ourselves in the next five years. These statements could help us to decide a long term goal which would create a more reachable objective instead of blindly going about life without a purpose. One of my long term goals was to be accepted into a law school program. With a goal, I am able to determine what academic steps are needed to achieve it. 

Connect for Success also included lessons about important mental health issues. The program discussed drastic events consisting of topics about supporting a friend who has a mental health disorder and dealing with the loss of a loved one. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “an estimated 49.5% of adolescents had a mental disorder.” The large presence of mental health disorders without any resources for students in a classroom setting is alarming. The time taken twice a week to become educated about our own mental health and the health of others outweighs any sort of negative consequence that is associated with the program. 

There are various opinions that strongly oppose the continuation of Connect for Success. For instance, a petition titled “Terminate the ‘Connect for Success’ Program” has reached over 500 signatures. The students who created the petition broadly declared themselves as “The Students of Collier County” and implied that distaste for the program is something that all students enrolled in CCPS had. 

However, the petition lacks clear evidence on why students believe Connect for Success should be discontinued. The only reasoning behind the creator’s claim is that it takes minutes away from the individual’s class time. Nevertheless, time for education is compensated by learning material that is necessary for students who will one day exit high school. 

Most importantly, Connect for Success helped me build a relationship with my classmates and teacher in the program. When I first entered high school, I dreaded talking to anyone besides my close friends. However, the small class size, various partner activities and biweekly meetings encouraged me to start participating in classroom discussions even outside of the program. An environment where the main focus is to make a connection with your peers and faculty is extremely helpful in making these much needed bonds. 

Overall, the Connect for Success program should be kept for the upcoming years in CCPS due to the various benefits that it has proven to provide. Without attendance in Connect for Success,  I know that I would not have been able to adjust to my freshman year as smoothly. I will carry the lessons that I