Eastside Elementary peer program growsPublished 10:48am Tuesday, March 2, 2010
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
Students at Eastside Elementary School are getting a unique education thanks to a peer mentoring program that launched just last year and has already grown significantly in its popularity.
Teacher Diane Curry introduced Team Soar to the school last year.
“This is something we’ve always wanted to get going in the schools,” Curry told the Star at the time.
The program pairs up fifth grade “trainers” with students in grades K-4 to help their classmates advance in various challenging areas such as reading, social behavior, academics and/or math.
Calling it an “intervention process,” in an article for the district’s newsletter last year, Curry said “the goal of this program is to improve social behavior and academic performance.”
In just one year that program has grown and what remains is a strong sense of understanding peer mentors are gaining from the younger students.
“I’ve learned mostly about kids, how they act,” peer mentor Amber Cele said. “If they get mad at you, you have to give them a little bit of space.”
“It’s actually really fun,” Tyler Jerue said.
Students say they learn how to handle various reactions from their peers and realize now that people, even young students, react to different situations differently.
“Some kids can be easy to deal with,” Madeline Stanton said. “And some can be really hard.”
Those older peers also take their titles seriously. Gabriel Atherton said he’s learned a lot from the program and said in order to be a good peer, one must be responsible, smart and get good grades.
“It’s the whole nine yards right there,” he said.
An estimated 30 fourth- and fifth-graders are working as peers with younger students through the program right now and more fourth-graders are expected to start training for the program in April.