It is both unfortunate and peculiar that many of life's valuable lessons are often learned in retrospect when it's too late to change the course of an event, decision, or action. Take education, for example. For many kids in the U.S., attending public school is not often seen as a privilege that opens doors to opportunity, but rather a requirement forced upon them by elders. It's only years later that the importance of education is truly felt, when the yearning for a do-over begins to surface, when words like "could've" and "should've" become all too familiar. 

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Most third-graders are not pondering the ways in which memorizing their times tables will benefit them ten years down the road. Herein lies yet another kind of privilege: the privilege of assuming that one will go to school and that that right will never be threatened or called into question. Millions of children live in this bliss. Meanwhile, millions more struggle to overcome hurdles just to make it to school a few days a week. 

For students attending the Monarch School in San Diego, CA, overcoming obstacles is less of a nuisance as it is a way of life. The Monarch School is a one-of-a-kind institution that has been impacting the lives of kids affected by homelessness since 1988. With the ability to serve up to 350 students on a daily basis, Monarch provides an accredited education for grades K-12, as well as tutoring and college prep guidance. In addition to the educational element, Monarch also meets the needs of their student body by offering assistance with things such as food, clothing, transportation, and even dentistry.   

Brian Davey, DDS - Complete Health Dentistry keeping Monarch students healthy!

Posted by Monarch School San Diego on Friday, April 17, 2015

In a segment conducted by ATTN: media company, cameras were invited into the classroom of motivational speaker and Monarch teacher Nate Howard. Howard specializes in teaching students how to use spoken word and mindfulness to bring about a deeper understanding of one's self. 

In an interview with SF Globe, Howard explained, "My goal is to challenge students to let go of all the labels that have been told of them. We create a safe environment that allows us to be vulnerable about the experiences in our life. Through this exchange we are able to find the courage to decide whether we will accept the story that has been written for us, or if we will write our own." 

Howard's experience working with underprivileged kids has opened his eyes to the ways in which the nation's school system falls short in providing less fortunate students with the tools to break the cycle they're in. 

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"We continue to deposit information that has no true application to the well-being of our students. Moreover, we continue to push the practice of dependency by pushing agendas that put the oppressed to be subservient to the status quo. Nonetheless, students will grow up and get by, but they will never grow up and get out. You cannot be free until you know truly who you are. A homeless youth does not break his/her cycle alone," Howard told SF Globe. 

One of Howard's lessons shown in the video challenges students to find out who they are. In an article titled "Teaching Purpose in School: Who Are You vs What Are You?" Howard describes this lesson more in depth, explaining that it provides a way for students to be purposeful in their self-awareness. 

Howard's unique approach to reach the homeless youth of San Diego has impacted the community in a way that can't be quantified, but rather felt, at least that seems to be the consensus from his students' moving words. See how Howard's vision combined with Monarch's longstanding mission is disrupting a cycle of education for the better. 

See How This School Is Breaking the Cycle for Homeless Youth

See How This School Is Breaking the Cycle for Homeless Youth

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, March 26, 2015