Thursday, Apr 18, 2019

Hvd schools implement new program

Jefferson Elementary School and Harvard Junior High School have adopted the Student Ambassador program this fall to provide support to students who have been identified as leaders by their peers as well as their teachers.

Margaret Segersten, principal at Harvard Junior High, emphasized that the Student Ambassador program, which offers support and mentoring to peer leaders, works in conjunction with the already-implemented Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support program.

“Students learn to play an active role with peers,” Segersten said. “Students can see, hear and know things that adults just can’t. … This makes peer leadership through the Student Ambassador program the perfect addition to PBIS.”

Harvard Junior High sent 45 individuals and Jefferson Elementary School sent 35 to the Student Ambassador Conference in late October. At the workshop, the students were given the opportunity to participate in various role-playing activities and to learn the important tools and techniques to implement while intervening on the behalf of students who are being bullied.

“This is something that everyone, students and adults, can learn from and use on a daily basis,” said Kristy Payne, special education aide and program adviser at Jefferson Elementary. “Not everyone knows what to do in every situation.”

Both schools have set up a time during the academic school day for advisers and ambassadors to meet. Students are encouraged to share situations they have witnessed or participated in, and peer ambassadors and advisers are able to guide the students if they need it. The advisers also will assist in teaching new tools and techniques throughout the year.

“The goal really is to give the students what they need to take an active role and to stand up for others,” Jefferson Elementary School Principal Judy Floeter said. “We want them to know when to intervene and when to get assistance.” Lillian Cooke, a fourth-grade student at Jefferson Elementary, is empathetic to her peers because she has been a victim of bullying. She enjoys meeting with her fellow ambassadors and teachers because she wants to do her part to stop bullying in schools.

A.J. Jimenez, a fifth-grade student recently selected as a Student Ambassador at Jefferson Elementary, said, “It feels like [my peers] are giving me a big responsibility.”

He remembers the five rules of being a Student Ambassador from the conference in October and said he was grateful for the lessons learned. He said learning how to support a student who is being bullied, learning to reason and figuring out how to discern when to seek assistance from a teacher have been crucial lessons for him, and he plans to use them to make a difference.

Adrian Hernandez, an eighth-grade student at Harvard Junior High, a Student Ambassador and a recent attendee of the conference, said, “I feel honored that [my classmates] think of me as a leader.”

He said one of the greatest tools he received at the conference was information he learned while participating in the skits, the role-playing and the practice games. Having been given examples and taught how to react has given him the confidence he needs to be a leader and to support his peers who have chosen him as a leader among them.

Sandol Scholl, teacher at Harvard Junior High and Student Ambassador program adviser, said the impact is already being felt at her school. “Teachers say they’ve noticed a change in students. … They have said that they’ve noticed a student stepping up in a situation where they may not have before. … To have teachers come up to you and say they’ve noticed that is really nice,” she said.

The chosen students will continue to meet throughout the school year and will be given continued training and support from staff.