Issue 09 | June 1, 2012 | Self Designed Courses

Newsletters Archive

As we continue to seek for answers regarding what motivates students to achieve, you'll be reading about a young man who says that "when he faces a setback, he gets constructive."  You'll see what he means below in the story about Brandon Banks from Missouri.    But first, here are some important tips as you prepare your portfolio to send to your advisor.


When preparing evidence for your self-designed courses, remember that your "proof" should be compelling, i.e. persuasive and powerful. For example, a teen from New Hampshire brought her portfolio to NARHS. The portfolio showed a possible credit for music, specifically bagpipes! She had photos (which could be staged) of her holding the bagpipes. Any of us can hold bagpipes for a picture, but when she gave us a copy of the local newspaper that mentioned her by name, that was compelling evidence. When she opened a large case and began playing the bagpipes, that was absolutely convincing.

 Another way to provide convincing evidence is by having another person verify in writing your participation in an event, class or program. The NARHS "Grading Tool for Self-Designed Courses" can provide corroborative evidence in the student's favor, because there is a signature of the verifying party along with a grade for student performance. 

Use them frequently. They are very helpful tools


Brandon Banks Brandon is a NARHS senior from Troy, Missouri, who founded and directs a performing arts organization, Spot Light Stars, which focuses on the improvement of communities, and improving the life of children through plays, musicals, talents shows, dinner theatres, drama classes, and much more. Along with 2 other skilled directors, week-long workshops are conducted in which a play is rehearsed and ready for production on Saturday night. Sets, costumes, staging and memorization is all completed during the week-long workshops held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. daily. The next performance will be Alice in Wonderland this June. 

(See the website at )

You might wonder how such a well-developed program could be accomplished by one so young. Brandon claims that it pretty much started when he was job-hunting at age 15. No one would hire him, because of his age. He enrolled in a program at the University of Missouri all about entrepreneurship which got his adrenalin pumping. Because of his experience with theater and music previously, he decided to turn his hobbies into a job. 

When Brandon experienced the setback of no job offers, he got constructive, creative and successful. 

The second time this happened to him was when school officials were concerned about Brandon's lack of attendance at high school due to his business obligations. After numerous attempts, a way could not be found to keep Brandon in school while he directed his performing arts organization. This time, his constructivity led him to NARHS where he can finish his high school studies on his own time table while devoting much needed time to Spot Light Stars. 

After graduation this summer, Brandon plans to attend Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois, majoring in business management and film directing with a production minor. He hopes to develop SLS into a talent agency eventually while he continues his second love, radio broadcasting.