New Course at Vista Offers Peer Counseling, Mentoring and Leadership
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High school can be an exciting time — there are new faces, new classes, and new teachers. But it can also be nerve-racking for students seeking to start their journeys that will carry them through the next four years of their life.
Vista del Lago has recently embarked on a journey to offer classes to sophomore through senior students, where they will learn skills not only to support their peers through peer counseling, conflict management, leadership, service projects, tutoring, and education, but they will also learn skills that will shape the students’ futures. The proposed new course curriculum, Peer Leadership, will take place starting in the 2017-2018 school year. This course is one term in length, it can be taken repeated times for credit and will have college prep status (g).
Vista will be focusing on the belief that students can help fellow students succeed. Because students who are sophomores, juniors and seniors have gone through the transition from middle school to high school, they will know the workings of how to succeed and will instill what they have learned through the course of their time.
The Peer Leadership class will be training students to become role models and participate with other students in and outside the classroom. The focus is to guide the school to solution development, and because problems and conflicts are bound to happen, they hope the peer leaders can intervene when necessary. They wish to create a safe, friendly and open environment for all students on campus. By teaching the leaders that everyone has different backgrounds and values, they hope to achieve a common goal of community between all students. Peer Leaders will be transferring their knowledge and skills to incoming students through one-on-one counseling, conflict mediation and educational outreach.
According to the proposal, the general goals of the course are “to enhance the confidence, achievements, and self-esteem of the students, as well as strengthen the socio-emotional health of school community as a whole.”
“Youth respond to youth better than to adults, so it makes perfect sense to engage the students in conflict management and mentoring,” said Janice Johnson, the course instructor. “It’s better for everyone if we can get a group of like-minded people together who reflect the various populations of the student body, and train them to effectively create a support system…It makes our school a better place, and then these students can go out and make the world a better place.”
Johnson is looking for students who genuinely want to be there so they can help students have a better high school experience. The ideal class will have people from different populations on campus participating in order to reflect the diverse student body.
Acknowledging she’s “crossed the line into cheesy territory,” she said, “I want it to be cool to be kind to each other, and I want the student culture to be positive. I hope that it becomes such a popular class that we have to put people on a waiting list, open more classes and train more teachers to teach the curriculum. That would be fantastic.”
Interested students who want to be involved in peer counseling, peer mentoring, project development and management, and community building are encouraged to sign up for Peer Leadership for the 2017-2018 school year. It’s open to grades 10 through 12 and can be taken multiple times as a ‘g’ elective.