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Evidence-Based Group Mentoring that Helps Transform Schools into Safer and More Supportive, Engaging, and Inspiring Environments Sherry Barr, Psy.D. Vice.

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Presentation on theme: "Evidence-Based Group Mentoring that Helps Transform Schools into Safer and More Supportive, Engaging, and Inspiring Environments Sherry Barr, Psy.D. Vice."— Presentation transcript:

1 Evidence-Based Group Mentoring that Helps Transform Schools into Safer and More Supportive, Engaging, and Inspiring Environments Sherry Barr, Psy.D. Vice President Margo Ross, Psy.D. Senior Director of Development National Mentoring Summit January 31, :30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

2 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention The Center for Supportive Schools (CSS) has a 35-year history of partnering with K-12 schools throughout the US to train and mobilize students to be lifelong leaders who make schools better for themselves, their peers, and younger students. As a result, schools become safer, more supportive, engaging, and inspiring and students become: strongly connected through caring relationships with adults and one another; and highly capable of using the leadership, academic, social, and emotional skills that are proven to result in school and life success. Center for Supportive Schools 1

3 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 2 SESSION OVERVIEW Welcome; Introductions Examining the Challenges Associated with Transitioning from Middle to High School: A Think, Pair, Share Exercise Relevance of School Connectedness Potential Benefits of a Peer-to-Peer Approach Overview of the Characteristics of Effective Transition Programs Case Study of Effective Peer Leadership & High School Transition Program Overview of Peer Group Connection (PGC) Final Reflections Adjourn

4 TRANSITION & CHALLENGES: A THINK, PAIR, SHARE EXERCISE From your experiences and observations, what are the most significant challenges facing students as they transition from middle school to high school? CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 3

5 4 Research has demonstrated that the stress often accompanying the transition from middle school to high school is associated with lowered achievement and school attendance (Akos & Galassi, 2004) By the time they reach high school, as many as 40 to 60 percent of all students – urban, suburban and rural – are “chronically disengaged” from school (Blum, 2005) Students are most vulnerable for dropping out during and immediately following their first year of high school (Cohen & Smerdon, 2009) Transition to High School

6 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention Opportunity By leveraging the power of school-based, group mentoring by older peers and focusing intensively on the transition from middle to high school… We can transform this period of heightened vulnerability into one of significant opportunity to prevent the potentially devastating personal and societal consequences of high school disengagement and dropout. 5

7 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 6 School connectedness – the belief by students that people in the school care about their learning and about them as individuals – is a powerful protective factor in the lives of young people and an important prerequisite to reduced bullying, greater academic achievement, lower dropout rates, improved grades, fewer discipline referrals, and fewer high-risk behaviors. Blum & Libbey, 2004; Getting Grounded

8 MY TEENAGE SELF Once upon a time, we were where our students are. Our experiences may have looked different from theirs, or our experiences may have looked similar. Almost across the board, though, adolescence wasn’t—and isn’t—easy. To help establish context for considering programming that supports school connectedness and ensures that students make an effective transition into high school, let’s begin with a quick visit back to that time and place when we, too, were teenagers CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 7

9 8 Working in groups of three, participants introduce themselves to one another and take turns sharing responses to any one of the following questions: What is one memory you have about a time in high school when you felt strongly connected to other students? What is one memory you have about a time in high school when you felt strongly disconnected from other students? Think back to one adult in your middle school or high school who threw you a lifeline – this adult knew you and cared about you, and this person’s caring made a positive difference in your life. Directions

10 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 9 What patterns did we see emerge in our memories of school connectedness? What might make it even harder for today’s high school students to experience a sense of school connectedness? Reflections

11 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 10 Peer-to-peer group mentoring is a straightforward, cost-effective, and evidence-based model for: Enhancing school connectedness Easing the transition into high school for 9 th graders Strategy

12 STRATEGY What are the potential benefits of using a peer-to-peer approach? CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 11

13 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 12 Research demonstrated peer leadership is an effective approach for positively impacting student behaviors if implemented with key elements in place. Peer leaders can help shift social and group norms toward positive student behavior Peer leaders can have more credibility than adults Learning and attitudes are reinforced on an on-going informal basis Beneficiaries include both the peer leaders and recipients Increases the number of youth that can be reached Cost effective Benefits of a Peer-to-Peer Approach

14 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 13 Programs that support students throughout the transition from middle to high school and extending throughout the freshman and sophomore years have the greatest impact on keeping students engaged and in school. Have adequate support of school leadership Develop individual social skills Are theory driven Involve interactive teaching approaches (e.g. small group activities and role plays) Use properly selected and trained peer leaders to facilitate delivery of the program Effective Transition Programs

15 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 14 Integrate other segments of the community (e.g. family members) Are delivered over multiple structured sessions over multiple years Provide adequate training and support to program facilitators Are culturally and developmentally appropriate for the students they serve Integrate into the regular school day Reach all students transitioning Have adequate resources Effective Transition Programs (continued)

16 CASE STUDY A TRANSITION PROGRAM IN ACTION: VIDEO PRESENTATION What did you see or hear that resonated with you most deeply? CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 15

17 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 16 Capitalize on critical transition points with all students K-12 experience – the transition from the elementary to middle grades and from middle to high school – by supporting schools in making relatively minor changes to the way they do business in order to leverage massive changes in students’ experiences and results. Peer Group Connection (PGC)

18 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 17 Findings demonstrate that PGC improves students’ academic, social, and emotional skills, and results in: improved grades; better attendance; fewer discipline referrals; less fighting; and less substance use among participants. A four-year longitudinal, randomized control study conducted by Rutgers University found, among other major results, that PGC improves the graduation rates of high school student participants by ten percentage points and cuts by half the number of male students who would otherwise drop out. PGC: Evaluation Results

19 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 18 % of Ninth Grade Students who Graduated from High School Results: Graduation Rates All StudentsMale Students

20 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention Collaboration with School Leadership: PCLT staff collaborates with school leadership to assemble and train a school-based Stakeholder Team. 2. Faculty Advisors: PCLT staff collaborates with the school-based Stakeholder Team to identify, select, train, and support Faculty Advisors. 3. Peer Leaders: Faculty Advisors select and train Peer Leaders through an out-of-school retreat and a daily, credit-bearing leadership class. 4. Weekly Outreach Sessions: Peer Leaders mentor and support younger peers in curriculum-driven weekly sessions, carefully planned special events, meaningful service learning projects and informally throughout the school day and year. 5. Family Nights: Parents/caregivers participate in special family events th Grade Booster Sessions: Younger peers receive additional support for a second year. PGC Model: Overview of Six Key Steps

21 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 20 Peer Group Connection Structure

22 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 21 The PGC curriculum uses engaging, hands-on activities to address issues that have been shown to help reduce risk behaviors and produce positive student outcomes, including high school completion. Curriculum topics include: PGC Curriculum Sense of School Belonging Competence in Interpersonal Relationships Conflict Resolution, Anger Management, & Violence Prevention Bullying & Bystander Behavior Achievement Orientation & Motivation Goal Setting Coping Skills Decision Making Peer Acceptance & Resisting Peer Pressure Anger Management Stress Management Service Learning

23 FINAL REFLECTIONS What is something you’ve heard or thought about today that will stay with you? CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 23

24 FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Margo Ross, Psy.D. Senior Director of Development Center for Supportive Schools x 113 CENTER FOR SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS School-Based Prevention 24


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