As a middle school science teacher for 25 years, Claude Larson knows a thing or two about working with adolescents.  During the latter years of her career, Larson noted that teenagers were finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate in class due to distractions and increased anxiety caused by social media and other sources.  Instead of lamenting the challenges she faced as an educator, she created a series of short lessons designed to help teens identify realistic goals, enhance communication skills, and set boundaries.  The lessons were such a hit with her students, that she combined them into a book, The Power of Choice: A Teen’s Guide to Finding Personal Success.  A recent presentation about the book to the Branchville Rotary was so impactful, the organization decided on the spot to purchase a set of books and donate them to Project Self-Sufficiency for use with their programs for young adults.


“These are timeless skills you need if you want to be successful.  Criticism is not meant to crush you it’s meant to help you get better,” explains Larson.  “We have got to build resiliency and perseverance in our young people and that is what this book is all about.  If you establish your standards and are clear about what you want, you can go anywhere.”


“Claude Larson’s presentation to the Branchville Rotary was thoughtful and informative and the membership was very impressed by her efforts towards this extremely worthwhile and needed program for the teens in our county,” explained Branchville Rotary President Cindy Allen.  “It is important to note that these donations were personal donations from members of the club, rather than donations made by the organization.  This is just one example of how The Rotary Club of Branchville, New Jersey, lives up to its motto of ‘Service above Self.’”

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“Project Self-Sufficiency has two programs targeted to young adults, Bridges to Employing Youth and the New Jersey Youth Corps,” commented Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director at Project Self-Sufficiency.  “Both programs include a life skills component which perfectly dovetails with the message in this book by Claude Larson which was generously donated by the Branchville Rotary.  We are looking forward to sharing these with our students.”


Locally, The Power of Choice:  A Teen’s Guide to Finding Personal Success is available at Sparta Books.  The book is also available on Amazon.


Project Self-Sufficiency’s New Jersey Youth Corps is a program designed for Sussex and Warren County high school dropouts, aiding with obtaining a high school diploma, literacy and life skills, career guidance and transition to college, employment, or the military.  A weekly stipend and free transportation are provided.  The Dover-based Bridges to Employing Youth program targets pregnant or parenting Morris County young adults, ages 16 – 24, and offers a range of comprehensive supportive services to students while they work towards educational and employment goals.  Program graduates are poised to move on to higher education, unsubsidized employment, occupational training, apprenticeships, or military service.  Both 16-week programs are enrolling now; learn more at or call 973-940-3500.