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“Be Nice” just might be the best bit of college planning advice teachers, administrators and school board members could ever give teens. Over the last six years of working with Williamson County students and their quest to get accepted into competitive colleges, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Be Nice” is more than just a catchy slogan that fits neatly on a t-shirt or license plate. At a deeper level, “Be Nice” is an acquired skillset crucial for students to understand themselves, navigate relationships, improve community relations, and, yes, gain acceptance to competitive colleges.
Williamson County is full of brilliant kids with weighted GPAs north of 4.0 and stellar ACT scores. The only thing missing, for many of them, is the skillset required to “be nice” to others. And, as evidenced by a recent Harvard study, this is a sought-after attribute among the nation’s top colleges and universities.
I see teens’ lists of activities every day. Most students have only a thinly-curated list of extracurriculars or community involvement with nothing that indicates a deeper ability to work with others, to contribute to their community, or to “be nice.”
So the question remains: How can we help teens choose to “be nice” in an environment where they see cliques, division, and discord every day?
This is where we think Diversity Leadership Project can make a difference in students’ lives. We firmly believe the only answer to discord is community building, and see practicing conflict resolution skills as the best medicine for a world that does not know how to “be nice.”
Diversity Leadership Project desires to create an environment of acceptance and understanding, where peace can become every student’s instinctual reaction to adversity. In addition to monthly meetings at participating high schools, DLP also offers Non-Violent Communication for teachers, administrators and parents. We understand how learning to “be nice” can help anyone, no matter their current role in life.
Diversity Leadership Project training and practice in school communities helps students communicate with one another and work through conflict in a calm and effective way. The need for disciplinary actions decrease, and school becomes a place where administrators can focus on academic success and individual student achievement. The school becomes a place where students love to learn, teachers love to teach, and parents feel confident their children’s needs—for safety, respect, and learning—can be met.
At the heart of DLP is the practice of Non-violent Communication, and the promotion of diversity and awareness, and being an active part of a welcoming and compassionate community. Participating in this club helps students form a hopeful and peaceful perspective on the world and their role within it. These students become more compassionate and peaceful individuals, with a strong desire to make a positive change in the community around them. They learn what it truly means to “be nice,” and they take that skillset on to college with them and it becomes second nature throughout their adult life.