PEER begins seeing buddies
Not every person knows the feeling of safety and calmness students feel when they meet with their PEER mentor, and not every person knows satisfaction on the other side.
GHS’s PEER organization enlists the help of high school students to assist at-risk students in all grade levels and all Greenwood schools. Last month marked the first meeting of PEER students and their student buddies.
Mrs. Laura Stadtfeld, GHS’s Family and Consumer Sciences instructor, spends the first quarter of the school year teaching PEER students ways to best interact and help their student buddies.
“We’ve been doing training to be ready to go out with our buddies. We have a book and we’ve done a lot of stuff out of the book on how to work with your buddy. It’s mostly just things to say and not to say,” said senior Caitlin Allen.
PEER mentors work with their buddies on specific skills to help them cope with the struggles they are facing, no matter what they are.
“All of the buddies have a character trait of the month, so we’ll do an activity that goes with the character trait,” said Allen. “They each have their own issues that they’re struggling with. For example, if we have a buddy that’s being a bully, we’d try to find an activity that’d help with that”
Some members of PEER are assigned a high school student as their buddy, which can lead to challenges when it comes to planning activities.
“With a high school buddy, they don’t have character traits and you can’t do coloring activities or simple activities like you would with elementary-age buddies. Instead, you’re there for them to talk to,” said Allen.
Not just any student is assigned a high school buddy, due to the more challenging aspects than that of a younger student.
“It takes a lot of privacy and it takes a lot of creativity. I feel like those are more challenging buddies because they are more your peers, so you really have to be delicate about getting to know them and making sure they feel comfortable going through the process,” said Stadtfeld. “I try to pick students that are more creative and the ones I know will be confidential about what they talk about with their peer buddy and still be able to do a good job at what they’re doing with their high school buddy,”
Since PEER is an elective taken by both juniors and seniors, some students are able to take part in this program twice.
“The second years have already been through the training process, so they kind of do organizational things, like they helped us design the t-shirt for this year and they helped us organize things that are going on at the retreat. They just kind of do all these things in the classroom that I need done beforehand, and the first years are doing their training during this time,” said Stadtfeld.
Students have started seeing their buddies twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday.
“Eventually they’ll have four buddies during the week and they’ll go out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” said Stadtfeld. “We start out with Tuesday and Thursday because of Winterization,” PEER students are motivated to join the program by all sorts of different things.
“My mom is a kindergarten teacher at Isom and she’s always told me about the PEER buddies and how they are really helpful to the kids,” said Allen, “I’m looking forward to building relationships with them.”