By Kimberly K. FritzOctober 27, 2011
FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 27, 2011) -- Fort Lee students arriving to Hopewell's Carter G. Woodson Middle School will have personal guides and potential friends waiting to help them adjust to their new surroundings.
The Junior Student 2 Student program is in its infancy at Woodson, but has six eager students --two 6th graders, two 7th graders and two 8th graders -- ready to help newcomers learn the layout of the school, policies and hallway traffic patterns to name a few of skills the students learned during a recent two day conference.
Student 2 Student is the brainchild of the Military Child Education Coalition and was launched in high schools worldwide before the JS2S program took shape. During their training, the students and their advisors learned how to train other students on methods to support students who are transitioning to or from another school. The focus is student-centered and is student-led, with close supervision. The training, based on three research modules, focuses on meeting very real transitioning student needs with immediate peer credibility, positive peer relationships and valued information.
Woodson's gifted education teacher, Jane Bujakowski and guidance counselor Bobbi Peck selected six outstanding students to attend the training. They are strong individuals who can handle additional responsibilities and are friendly and outgoing.
Eighth graders Gabby Canino and Blaise Michaud explained why they felt JS2S would work well at their school.
The students learned how to incorporate planning, technology, resources, goal setting, support system and elements of transitioning in and out of campuses in each of the modules. Individual teams developed local lesson plans and clear assignments for implementation at their home campuses during the conference. The modules focused on academics, relationships and finding the way.
Canino said she learned a lot about military students during the training.
"Aspects of school I don't really think about like which hallway to use or where to sit in the cafeteria could make a new student feel overwhelmed," she said. "I loved the activities we participated in at the training. We learned to branch out, and we needed to know all the other students by the end of the two days. They wanted us to learn to meet new people and not to just befriend girls if you are a girl and not just befriend guys if you are a guy. We learned how to make friends and not be shy."
The confident student said she was excited to be in the program and is looking forward to putting her newly found knowledge to good use.
"I can't wait for a new student to arrive," Canino said.
Michaud, a talented artist, is ready to make a difference, as well.
"We recently had a new student join our class, and I've realized how much difference peers can make in the lives of others. If we didn't speak to her in class or wave in the hallway, she might start to think we aren't welcoming her," Michaud said.
Prince George County High School and Hopewell High launched S2S in their schools in 2008.
Moore Middle School, Clements Jr. High School and the Education Center in Prince George County sent students and faculty members to the training.
At Moore Middle, more than 40 students are Moore Mentors. Each of the school's homerooms have at least one student assigned to help welcome students to the school and provide assistance to both military and nonmilitary newcomers.
Guidance counselor Erica Uber said six of the Moore Mentors were able to attend the JS2S training and learned new methods to help new students get acclimated.
Six students at N.B. Clements Junior High School attended the training to learn how to implement the JS2S program at their school. The students are working to recruit and train other students on methods to help relocating students build new relationships and find their way around their new school.
Steven Bhatt, a counselor at Clements, said the students are marching forward with the new ambassador skills to make the school feel more like home to all new students.