Students Helping Students for a Smoother Transition
November 26, 2008
What runs through the minds of military children who are facing another permanent change of station'
Do they look at it as an optimistic renewal' Whatever their thoughts may be about the task of starting over again, it is a daunting one for any military Family and coupled with the drama of being a teenager, it can become especially difficult.
For Family members attending Prince George County, Hopewell and Petersburg High Schools, there is something to help ease the transition into the unknown. Each of these school districts sent students and faculty members to the Military Child Education CoalitionAca,!a,,cs Student 2 Student Initiative training conducted Oct. 23 Aca,!" 26 in Virginia Beach, Va.
Two students and two faculty members or administrators from each school spent four days learning how to start this initiative in their schools. The training focused on three major areas where transitioning students need most help: academics, relationships and finding the way.
Tina Collins, Fort LeeAca,!a,,cs school liaison officer, first became aware of S2S while attending another MCEC conference. When she discovered the initiative did not exist in the school districts servicing Fort Lee Soldiers and their Families, and in the spirit of the Army Family Covenant, she immediately began pitching the idea to superintendents and school boards in the greater Fort Lee community.
At Hopewell High, sophomores Ronni Moss and Bobby Easingwood were both highly recommended by their teachers and school administrators.
Aca,!A"We looked for individuals who showed leadership abilities, commitment, individuals who are knowledgeable, have good grades and a good discipline record,Aca,!A? said Kay Erb, faculty advisor to the Hopewell S2S team.
Easingwood knows first hand about being the new kid. Although he is not a military child, he has attended seven schools in his academic career and can relate well to the circumstances of transition.
Moss also knows the hardships of changing schools. She is a resident of Richmond, yet she attends school where her mother works.
Aca,!A"It was a hard transition for me because I didnAca,!a,,ct know any of the kids; I had to make new friends and meet new people,Aca,!A? Moss said. Aca,!A"I dealt with all the things associated with moving.Aca,!A?
The student-led, school-managed program puts transitioning students with peers dedicated and trained to help them become accustomed to their new community.
Prince George High School S2S students Kelsie McDaniels and Aaron Skinner attended the training and are piloting their schoolAca,!a,,cs program.
McDaniels and Skinner are motivated, involved juniors who round out their academic successes with clubs, sports and part-time jobs in the community. They both possess the characteristics needed for the S2S initiative, said Collins. Being a positive role model and 100 percent accepting of and comfortable relating to their peers are necessary distinctions.
During the training Skinner and McDaniels became aware of what military students may face every few years and they learned ways to help ease newcomersAca,!a,,c woes.
Aca,!A"I learned that I can meet new people from all over and it is really not that hard,Aca,!A? McDaniels said. Aca,!A"I canAca,!a,,ct be shy because the new people coming to the school are going to be shy. IAca,!a,,cll have to open up to them and let them into my world.Aca,!A?
Skinner said the program isnAca,!a,,ct just for military children; it is for all transitioning students.
Aca,!A"I learned that new people are going to have a big change depending on where they came from even it is from a local school,Aca,!A? Skinner said. Aca,!A"Getting in touch with other people is a good tool to help kids new to Prince George.Aca,!A?
Petersburg High School students Talia Cook, a sophomore, and DeMarcus Tyler, a junior, were chosen for their schoolAca,!a,,cs S2S group. The training gave them both a better sense of how a move affects the student in a myriad of ways.
Aca,!A"Moving from school to school can affect a studentAca,!a,,cs grades because of something as simple as the grading scale,Aca,!A? Tyler said. Aca,!A"We watched a valuable video that showed some of the issues that students face when they change schools. It made me realize that students have fears and adjustments to make in new communities and school that people like me have never experienced and never gave a second thought.Aca,!A?
The S2S groups in all three high schools are establishing their lesson plans for implementation on their campuses. The next step for each school is to recruit additional students, with emphasis on targeting military Family members, to assist with the program.
The groups came away from their training with ideas that will help students get to know their campuses. Plans include distributing spirit bags with T-shirts, school and local maps, gift cards and coupons for area shops and social activities.
McDaniels gave tips for new students when she spoke about perspective when arriving in a new location.
Aca,!A"If you go into a school with a positive attitude, then you are going to have a positive response,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"If you go in with a negative attitude, saying that you arenAca,!a,,ct going to know anyone and nobody will like you, then you wonAca,!a,,ct make new friends and people will have a negative attitude toward you.Aca,!A?