The Peer Support program has a mission to “promote positive communication that contributes to a connected and supportive community environment.”
An elective, non-academic pass/no pass course that meets during the X period throughout the school year, the students focus on a variety of interpersonal skills to serve as a student support resource for the School community. Trained in such areas as diversity, stereotype/assumptions and appropriate role-modeling behavior, they assist with things like group facilitation, conflict mediation, communication and mentoring, working under the supervision of Bishop’s school counselor, Megan Broderick ’98.
These students create, organize and lead presentations for both middle and upper school students. In September, they presented an upper school student workshop on Healthy Relationships. This was the first of four workshops the team is planning this year.
Meredith Hunter ’20 says, “We bring what we are working on in class to our community. Our four topics this year are about healthy relationships, stress management, making healthy choices, and self-love. Our goal in these workshops is to facilitate a discussion.” The healthy relationships workshop focused on “relationships with your family, yourself, and your peers. Our emphasis will be on how to create and maintain healthy relationships and how to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships.”
One of their next presentations will be at the December Parents Association meeting, where a panel of students will address topics from the recent Authentic Connections survey. As Megan explains, “The kids want to give parents ideas of how to communicate with their kids about the more tricky stuff.”
Class meetings begin with what the team calls “sharing our weather,” in which each person shares how they are feeling, using weather terms like sunny, cloudy, etc. Then Megan will offer a prompt for journal writing. She says, “For example, the last prompt was: what is too serious to joke about and why? This led us into a discussion of how we, as Peer Support leaders, can intervene when people feel hurt or marginalized by joking.”
From there, they break into committee groups and work on projects such as upcoming workshops, their work with middle school students, upcoming plans for a chapel talk, or planning “stress less” weeks. At the beginning of the year, Megan assigned each student an “accountability partner.” The students individually set personal goals; periodically the pairs check in with one another to discuss their progress.
Megan concludes, “All of these exercises, I believe, help the kids to become more aware of themselves and who they are, what they struggle with, and that makes them more able to be open and empathetic with others. Then they can take what we learn and work on out into our community and try to make it a happier, healthier place.”