Explore how role models impact today’s online high school students. See what one teacher’s students had to say when surveyed about this topic. online education, online high school, online high school students

Importance of Positive Adult Role Models

By: Christy Lamb
uncle and child silhouette at sunset

What adult role models does your teenager have? Would you say these people have made an impact on his or her life? In what ways?

My name is Christy Lamb, and I am an online high school assistant principal at Ohio Connections Academy. Teachers typically serve as important role models for many students. However, teachers are not the only individuals who are qualified to serve as positive adult influences in a student’s life. An adult role model can also be a coach, counselor, social worker, minister, neighbor, boss, or family friend. It can be anyone who comes into contact with the student on a regular basis and takes an interest in his or her well-being.

Most people believe that having positive role models in a young adult’s life can make a big impact. These role models can help students make healthy choices, and those choices can increase their chances of having a successful life.

Often, these role models don’t have to do anything that significant, because many teenagers just want someone to listen to them, and occasionally offer advice. They also want someone who will:

  • Encourage them to pursue their passions
  • Listen to their opinions and stories without judging
  • Provide insight when asked/needed
  • Remind them that they are not alone
  • Help them explore college and career options
  • Teach social skills

All of these things can be accomplished by any adult who takes the time to care.

I recently surveyed a combination of 137 tenth and eleventh grade online high school students to see just how important role models were to them, and I asked them several important questions:

  • How important is it for a high school student to have a positive role model in his or her life?
  • Do you have a positive role model (other than your parents) in your life?
  • What do you need an adult role model for?

The answers were very telling. The vast majority—79 percent—said that it is extremely important for a high school student to have that positive adult role model, and 82 percent believed they currently had one. As for what purpose that role model served, 73 percent of students said they wanted an adult role model to say encouraging words to them.

These online high school students didn’t see the adults in their lives as nuisances. Instead, they saw them as true role models who served as sources of encouragement, sounding boards, and friends. And, most important, they strongly believed they needed them there. Perhaps we can all give a little bit more to the young people in our lives. It would mean the world to them.

What do you think? How important are adult role models in your teenager’s life?