Exploring Why Experience Is The Best Teacher

Blog Post     December 8, 2018











“The only source of knowledge is experience.”- Albert Einstein


“Experience is the best teacher” is an old cliché, but in today’s world, it is more prevalent than ever.

The younger generation highly values experience over anything thing else, but often parents and educators unintentionally inhibit a child’s ability to learn from this greatest of all teachers.


As an educator who works with high-achieving youth from low-income communities, I see this dynamic at work every day. Parents have the desire to provide a meaningful, impactful experience for their child but they may limit the child’s opportunities out of fear of safety.  This is a common fear that most parents have today. How can we as educators and caregivers strike a balance? Here are three tips for creating meaningful and safe experiences:


Reframe Your Mindset

If you as a caregiver or educator are faced with a decision of whether to provide a meaningful experience or deny it based on fear, ask yourself “Would I want to do this if I were their age? What about this is interesting and/or fun?”


Children look forward to new and exciting experiences. Putting yourself in the shoes of your student or child is imperative in finding the best method to provide a good education.


Find A Safe Learning Environment

Find a partner that specializes in safe learning environments to ensure that not only you feel comfortable, but that the student or child is learning in a safe space.


Parents and educators can create safe experiences for students by enrolling them into credible organizations and activities. Pay close attention to areas in which students have expressed interest to find the best learning environment. Here at Dream On, providing a safe and insightful experience is our priority. There are many other organizations that could be a good fit for your child as well. Here are a few that I would recommend:


LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Program Summer Business Institute

This program exposes scholars to business principles and the skill sets needed for successful

business careers. It challenges them through applied learning experiences often facilitated by

college professors. LEAD links scholars to corporate executives in business fields and peers

with similar aspirations and abilities.


SocialWorks’ OpenMike

Every month SocialWorks partners with the Chicago Public Library to present a space for high

school students to share, express, and network with like-minded individuals.

This event, housed in the Harold Washington Library showcases randomly selected students to

present a 3-minute piece of their choice. Afterward, SocialWorks brings friends to perform,

teach, and inspire.


Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholars Program

This program is a selective 5-year, pre-college scholarship for high-performing 7th grade

students with financial need. It provides comprehensive academic and college advising, as well

as financial support for school, Cooke-sponsored summer programs, internships, and other

learning enrichment opportunities.


Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS)

NUMATS is a program that offers research-based gifted assessment to identify academic

ability, measure growth and connect students to resources and opportunities for advanced



Get Involved

Getting involved is a good way to ease the stress of worrying about your child’s safety. As cliché as it sounds, communication is key. Be sure to keep everyone well informed of dates, times, locations, etc. It makes for a much more seamless experience and a better time for the students.


Be mindful of volunteers and staff that are involved in the experience as well.  Make sure that volunteers are energetic and engaging when interacting with the students. It makes for a much more fun time for everyone, including you.


By getting involved and keeping yourself in the loop, you can grow comfort around the idea of creating experiences for your student or child.

Dream On Education Kicks Off 2018 Program on October 16th, Growing in Initiatives, Programs, and Students.

Press Release     October 16, 2018


CHICAGO – For the past five years Kelli Haywood, Founder of Dream On Education, and her team have dramatically helped students in 6th through 8th grade by offering a series of programs centered around scholastic development, mentoring, career exposure, and cultural exposure. Starting October 16th, this year’s program will kick off, and the nonprofit is rolling out new initiatives to further support students in the south and west sides of Chicago academically, socially, and emotionally.


Dream On Education has grown over the past five years. The program has doubled in size in terms of the students and communities they serve. They are also offering new initiatives for these students including Chicago’s first Youth Career Festival to provide hands-on experience within various industries. There are two docuseries in the works to showcase the students and their unique experiences.


According to Kelli Haywood, founder and executive director of Dream On Education, "We couldn't be more excited about doubling the number of students that we're serving this year. Our scholars are really looking forward to the unique experiences that we have lined up and our community partners have been awesome in terms of collaboration on educational, cultural, and career exposure opportunities that will stay with our students for a lifetime."


There are 3.5 million high-achieving low-income students in the United States. By the time they are in 8th grade, only 10% of those students will graduate college. With the initiatives and programs Dream On Education offers, and the new services that are rolling out this year, these students will be provided will a robust support system. The

youth is our future, and it’s imperative that society helps them achieve their dreams. To

learn more about Dream On Education and donate to their cause please visit



Dream On Education is a nonprofit organization that provides the best and brightest 6-8th graders in low-income communities with result-driven enrichment services such as scholastic development, mentoring, career exposure, and cultural exposure. Dream On Education is the only 100% immersive, experiential nonprofit for high-achieving low-income youth. The organization has mentored over 200 students in Chicago communities.