The Flyin Ryan Decisions Program is the first chapter in the Personal Learning Plan Resource Manual which was facilitated by VSAC to facilitate implementation the Personal Learning Plan Act 77 mandated by state legislation, Act 77, mandated several years ago and which has gone into effect this past year. The primary purpose of this legislation is to give Vermont students the opportunity to craft a sense of identity and responsibility which they can bring to the table in terms of having a voice in their education. Most education today is “top down”. Our program is exclusively “bottom up”.

We ask students to find their voice by connecting their hearts and core spirit with their minds in order to produce a set of core values which are authentic and represent them. Our program has been around for the last five years and is currently in place in South Burlington, Essex, CVU, Rutland Town School, Windsor High School, Harwood, and Shelburne Community School

The real value of our program is that it provides a compass for making decisions by giving students a weapon to resist many of the negative situations which are imposed by misguided adults or peer pressure. Students who are equipped with self-composed core values are more resilient to the counterproductive temptations and behaviors with which they are too frequently faced.

Three weeks ago we introduced the Flyin Ryan Decisions Program to the freshman class at Windsor High School. The teacher who directed the process, Mary Simmons, wrote us a note:

The cards the students wrote that are enclosed here have really impacted me. For so many of these students, their words reflect the impact not only of your visit but the message that resonated with them. Their words, for me, hit hard. So many of these kids have such hard life experiences but you (and Ryan’s message) provided relief and I trust with our continued work, release from so much (quite honestly) sadness. I am so very grateful to you.”

To our surprise Mary also included a package of hand-written testimonials from her students! Here is what some of them had to say.

Notes of thanks from students

► “You seemed like you cared about us and it inspired lots of us.”

► “Yesterday I learned that there are more things I believe in and I have more morals than I thought. Now I can work on them more.”

► “You gave my friends and I many things to think about.”

► “Thank you for inspiring me during your presentation.”

► “I learned what a core value is and I will make my own list.”

► “I learned that you should not forget your core values and you need to forgive yourself. I will never forget what you said.”

► “Your story was eye-opening and special. I have a new outlook on my values.”

► “You made me learn a lot about myself and my values.”

► “I learned how important it is to have core values and set goals for your life.”

► “I thought a lot about what I think my core values are and I learned a lot. I will continue to think about my core values throughout this journey.”

► “He (Ryan) really inspired me, because some days I give up. He taught me to make the best out of anything and just make every day like it’s my last.”

► “I had never thought about what my core values are or even what that meant. Now I have a lot to think about.”

► “Your talk really changed my perspective on how much time I really have in life. You made me realize that I should be making the most out of every minute that I am alive.”

► “Your presentation showed me that being myself and exploring my interests will help me find the best way to live a happy life that is full of joy. I want to thank you from every part of my heart.”

Our thanks goes out to Mary and to the many teachers, coaches and individuals who help introduce the Decisions Program to the minds and lives they shape!

Learn more about the Decisions Program here.