Older Students Mentor Younger Students in a Trauma-Informed School
Claudia Rojas (bio) tells how the upperclassmen coach the freshmen on behaviors at the Community Health Advocates School.
Last year when we opened, the main focus was to maintain campus safety and then create a school culture so that students really felt proud of being at Hawkins and in particular the Community Health Advocates School.
So now what we're seeing this school year is pretty amazing from a principal's standpoint is that most of the referrals that I now get to the office are from the incoming 9th grade class. My older students, like my 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, I'm not really getting the referrals that I was getting last year, where I think it was just a transition year for everybody. Now instead of them being in my office for negative reasons, they're in there because they want a signature because they want to do some sort of event on campus or they need approval to go on a field trip or what have you.
On top of that they're also mentoring the younger students and so what happens a lot of times is if I have a referral about a 9th grader who is getting in trouble in class, if I have an upperclassman in the office helping or if they just happen to come in for whatever reason, I'll pull them into the office and I'll introduce them to each other and just ask a simple question, "What would you tell this new student?" I'll never say they're in trouble or I'm scolding them for whatever reason, but, "What sort of advice would you give to this young man or this young lady, about the Community Health Advocates School and what we're trying to do here?"
So to see the conversations that take place are really great, because a lot of times it will be a student who last year was having some sort of issue and they're working through it. I'm not saying they're perfect, but I think also giving that positive reinforcement of last year this is where you were and look at the leaps and bounds that you've made.
Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.