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Check Out Melanie Black’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Black.

Hi Melanie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I moved back to the United States from Canada in my senior year of high school. I went to a local public school in Duval County. I had no test data on record and therefore was put into low-level classes with students who were struggling with learning disabilities, read below grade level, etc.

In less than two weeks, I experienced a panic attack while at school. I went to a guidance counselor for help and she was quick to say that ‘we don’t deal with that here.’ and told me to go to a different building and office.

I left the school and I enrolled in FSCJ’s high school program where they claimed the classes I took in Canada did not meet up to Florida standards. They wanted to put me back in tenth grade. I was in tears. I chose what I felt was the best option for me. I got my GED and started college seven months earlier than my friends.

When I got to college and university it was a whole new ball game. No one taught me anything about time management, note-taking, or any other study skills. I struggled. A lot! I learned a lot too. When I was asked to choose a major the advisor simply asked what classes I liked and like many teenagers, I liked my philosophy class and my humanities class.

The advisor responded with, ‘Well, you could major in social sciences for education and teach.’ Ok sure. Why not? I knew if I didn’t choose a major and continue going to school my father was going to be very upset with me so yes, social sciences for secondary education sounded great. At that point, I had no opportunities for self-discovery. I was never introduced to a career assessment, personal interest inventory, or any kind of learning assessment either.

While at UNF, I remember going home in tears because I wanted to quit school with two semesters to go. I was taking 4 classes. I was failing a class I needed in order to graduate. I was working 35 hours a week and in an unhealthy relationship. No one taught me how to handle stress.

I got out of the bad relationship and graduated in five years instead of four. I started teaching at a local middle school. My experience there taught me so much. I realized that it wasn’t just me. There are so many teens who need help. They need help with things they don’t teach in schools like organization and stress management.

When I resigned from teaching, I started Student Futures to help the whole student. I became an Academic Life Coach and worked with teens all over Jacksonville and St. Johns. It didn’t matter whether they went to Bolles or Ponte Vedra High. All teens need help in the area of social-emotional learning (SEL). In my opinion, it is just as important as academics.

SEL skills are transferrable to all areas of life and every student’s future endeavors. After working with thousands of teens for over ten years, I discovered what worked and what didn’t. I created four workbooks to help teens succeed and improve their SEL skills addressing organization, goal setting, stress management, and study skills.

I created various products to help students manage stress such as yoga cards and scented play-dough. I am passionate about giving my profits to local teachers and counselors. I am grateful that I have been able to give back to local educational professionals in our community who help students in tremendous ways. It takes a village!

Since being part of the hiring process for a local company, I see the urgency to help young people develop those SEL skills as they pertain to obtaining a job and keeping a job. I am currently working on a sixth book to help our youth with the professional and SEL skills needed to be successful.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Being an entrepreneur and an introvert has been challenging. I worked as a teacher for many years but had no idea how to run a business. Networking has been hard as I am not one to walk up to someone and start talking. However, with practice, it became easier and easier to talk to people about my business.

Dare I say I enjoyed networking? I did! I have had great support from friends and my husband who is an entrepreneur. He taught me a lot about business and always encourages me to do more. I joined a local women’s mastermind group where I met other entrepreneurs who were supportive and helped hold me accountable for my goals.

Being a mompreneur has been another challenge. I had my second child when my academic coaching business was starting to flourish. It became clear that I wasn’t able to keep the same schedule so I had to ask myself what else can I do for teens without this schedule?

That’s when I started writing my books. In my experience life throws many challenges and roadblocks at us. We have to take a moment to sit back, adjust, and make a new plan. If you’re passionate about something you should never give up on it.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am proud that I can give back to local educators through my business’s profits.

When I give to them they are able to help our local youth better. My goal with Student Futures is to help teens succeed in school and beyond. I feel my business has been accomplishing that goal.

Student futures, unlike traditional schools or traditional tutor, focuses on the whole student. A student’s emotional well-being is just as important as their academic progress.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
An education revolution is happening in our country now. I am excited to be a part of it. We are seeing various types of schools and programs being developed.

The curriculum is more and more diverse. I think more and more people in the future will be veering away from traditional education and figuring out more personal ways to address their educational needs.

I hope to continue to be a part of the education revolution by collaborating with others who are passionate about education. It takes a village. Together we can help youth succeed. They are our future.

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