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Cherry Creek High School students learn to harness their strengths

“I firmly believe that you will get much further investing in your strengths than you will focusing on your weaknesses.”

David Rowe and Lesley Philipps, English teachers at Cherry Creek High School, have been working with their tenth-grade students to identify and grow their strengths using the CliftonStrengths for Students, thanks to an Educator Initiative Grant from the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation.

Students took a self-assessment to learn more about themselves, finding a window into aspects of their personalities that have helped some connect more deeply with themselves. Jordan Wishmier, one of the students in the class, shared that she enjoyed this project.

“Doing this activity was useful because it helps you understand more about yourself,” Wishmeier said. “So you understand your emotions and reactions and why you do the things you do.”

Wachemo Mindlin-Leitner found that one of his strengths was “WOO,” which stands for “Winning Others Over.” That quality resonated with him.

“I really like getting to know new people,” Mindlin-Leitner said. “There's a challenge to finding that connection with someone and it fills my social energy up.”

The students talked about ‘balconies and basements,’ which refers to ways that strengths can be positive and negative, depending on how they are used. 

“One of my strengths is competition, which is helpful because it pushes you further,” tenth-grader Riyo Chow said. “But it can also be a detriment because you might start to think that you are better than other people.”

Rowe, who started using the CliftonStrengths program years ago, shared that students don’t always see the benefit at first, but that he’s had students reach out after graduation to share how meaningful it was.

“I’ve had students in their junior year of college tell me they had a crisis of confidence and struggled to remember who they were,” Rowe said. “They told me going back to their strengths allowed them to reconnect with themselves.”

Alvi Bappi, one of the students in the class, agreed.

“When I got my results it was a relief and validating because it was something external,” Bappi said. “It was nice to have something that showed me who I was, even though I have a good sense of that.”

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