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Rosser shares tools with students to ignite potential

Navigating adolescence is a challenge for most.

Any number of outside elements can impact development, potentially knocking a student off their path to success.

But, there are factors within everyone’s control that will allow them to ignite their individual potential.

That was the message Dr. Eric Jay Rosser, superintendent of the Poughkeepsie City School District, shared with the Poughkeepsie Middle School Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee as he led them in reflection and conversation last week. Rosser shaped his engagement with the group of approximately 20 sixth- and seventh-grade students using the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” written by Sean Covey. The superintendent shared that he confronted challenges of his own during what he called “a period of self-exploration and realization,” using personal examples from his youth. He said he relied on certain "habits" to elevate him to success.

Using Covey's “Seven Habits to Success” during his presentation he encouraged the students to  "Be proactive," "Begin with the End in Mind," "Put First Things First," "Think to Win," "Seek First to Understand," "Synergize" and "Sharpen The Saw.”

On its website,, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs posted "Researchers and practitioners report that young people who possess a diverse set of protective factors can, in fact, experience more positive outcomes.”

The interagency working group is composed of representatives from 13 federal departments and 12 federal agencies that support programs and services focusing on youth. It defines positive youth development as "an intentional, prosocial approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances young people’s strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths."

Unsupported image type.Rosser’s discussion with the advisory committee was facilitated by Da'Ron Wilson, district executive director of school engagement, and Danielle Green, Poughkeepsie Middle School assistant principal of climate and culture. Rosser concluded his presentation by sharing a valedictorian speech delivered by Deonte Bridges, a young man with whom he had worked in the Atlanta Public Schools. The 2010 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School – the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – shared his journey in a riveting speech on how his mantra of doing what was necessary over what was popular helped him navigate the challenges of his adolescence.

At the conclusion of the video, Rosser encouraged the students to reflect on what Bridges shared and how the “Seven Habits to Success” might support them to navigate their lives and take immediate action to lay the foundation for attaining their future goals. Each student was also provided with a copy of “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.”