Finding Your Voice as a Student

“Read to Lead helped me find myself and understand more about potential future careers.” — Hope, 7th grade student, Guardian Angel School

After moving from Georgia to New York, Hope found herself struggling to make friends in her new 6th grade class at the Guardian Angel School. She had a hard time connecting with her classmates and often started fights. One year later, Hope is a leader in her school’s magazine club, where she designs templates for the magazine and assists other students with their articles. “It was challenging at first,” said Hope, “but I like helping other people and I’ve made friends.”

Hope was introduced to the magazine club through her school’s afterschool program, where she learned how to be the boss of a community health clinic in Read to Lead’s Vital Signs. Her afterschool teacher, Mr. Mallardi, encourages his students to engage in educational activities during their Wednesday afternoon program, and uses Read to Lead to challenge the students and expose them to potential career paths. Vital Signs introduced Hope to the real-world scenarios that happen in community health clinics, and had an enormous impact on how she interacts with her peers at school. 

“After I played Vital Signs, I learned how to better communicate with people. In the game, some of the characters have arguments, but they are still able to be friends. Co-workers have to work through problems together. Read to Lead inspired me to stop bullying other people and helped me work through problems.”

Hope’s experience with Read to Lead helped her make better decisions in real life, resulting in her finding her voice and applying it to the school’s magazine through writing and design. She gained leadership skills and improved her writing through the game’s prompts, and realized she identified with the character Maya, who helps the doctor take care of patients in Vital Signs. Her participation in the afterschool program and time spent with Read to Lead helped teach her control and learn how to think about the choices she has before doing something negative. 

Mr. Mallardi saw an opportunity for Hope to engage further with her classmates and other teachers at the school by joining the magazine club where she’s now leading design and layout, as well as supporting other students in their writing. Hope recognizes her teacher’s investment in his students, noting, “he’s always there for us no matter what. If we were sad or mad we could talk to him. He really supports us.” It was through this support from Mr. Mallardi, and the experience of playing Read to Lead that Hope found a passion she could invest in at school. 

Read to Lead taught me how to better communicate with other students. Now, if anyone is having a problem either at home or at school, I want them to feel like they can connect with me because I want to help.” 

Hope’s outlook on school has transformed over the last two years. Joining the magazine club helped her form relationships with other students and express herself in positive, creative ways.