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Gradient Learning

‘Hold yourself accountable’

10.27.2023

As Teyvon Fields entered his second year at Robert Morris University, he carried more than a backpack and books. He brought along a wealth of experience gained during his first year at the small private school and the knowledge of how to navigate the rigors of a higher education curriculum.

Fields, who graduated from Greater Johnstown High School, said the learning habits that his high school teachers instilled in him continue to play a role in his success in pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. Greater Johnstown participates in the Summit Learning program with its focus on developing the whole student that instills skills that go beyond the classroom. Students ascertain how to take responsibility for their own learning plans and organization, which increases their confidence away from campus.

“In my opinion it’s the main method that I know works for me in how it is designed to help you retain a vast majority of the information you need,” Fields said.

Fields said those capabilities came in handy during his math class.

“The overall course load of the class requires a great deal of time to study the equations you are learning about,” he said. “Summit helped me find ways to break down an overall lesson into various study sessions so that I do not overwhelm myself with all the material and so that I still learn and remember the work I’m studying.”

By studying in different ways, students find how they learn best. Teachers guide students to build habits – such as curiosity, resilience, and a sense of purpose — that help them thrive throughout their lives.

Fields said it was an adjustment when he initially started college and realized he was on his own. The support and resources he gained from the whole student approach in high school enabled him to apply what he learned to master the new material at Robert Morris.

“You no longer have your teachers, or your parents, to keep you on track. You really have to set those daily and weekly goals and hold yourself accountable,” Fields said.

Backed up by research and science, whole student education drives a stronger sense of self, a greater ability to learn, and produces successful outcomes. Fields is proof.

Fields continues to rely on the work habits and organizational skills he learned in high school as he pursues a career in federal law enforcement. He said he is a better overall student because of the support he received at Greater Johnstown.

“The methods and teachings that Summit employs helps a student become better academically but also as an individual amongst your peers and in more professional environments,” Fields said. “Summit helped me form good study habits in the form of time management, which also helped me outside of the classroom as at the beginning of the semester I became a tour guide for Robert Morris.

“Summit helps give students the lessons they need to succeed in the classroom, but it also employs lessons that help prepare you for the workforce which I can say have greatly improved my own professional skill set.”

After starting college in August 2022, Fields said he hit a “mental wall” two months later but overcame that hurdle when he received a call from his former high school teacher and mentor Melissa Adamy. In high school, the two met weekly in one-on-one mentoring sessions, and during their phone chat, she reminded him that college is the time to become more independent and goal oriented.

“Summit helps…prepare you for the workforce which I can say ha[s] greatly improved my own professional skill set.”

Caring about the student, not just their academics but their social-emotional learning as well, is the foundation of a whole student approach. And it doesn’t stop when the student moves on. The connections between students and teachers help support confidence and deeper learning.

“I really needed that, and her words helped calm me down and get refocused,” Fields said last year. “It wasn’t really anything she said, but more of how she said it, and how encouraging she was.”

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