“This program was very successful at Edith Hays. So of all the programs we could have implemented, this is the one we wanted most,” said Mounts. “It takes some time to develop, but once the ball gets rolling on it, you see an impact in academics, in discipline, and bullying problems decrease — and you are building leaders amongst the students.”
Math and science teachers Rene Ware and Cara Rocchi, who head up the program, said the students were excited about the program.
“We had more than 100 students apply to be WEB leaders. We told them beforehand that we weren’t just looking for kids with 4.0 averages,” said Ware. “We told them that even if you struggled with grades, you could help another kid that is struggling and tell them what you’ve done to do better. We tried to emphasize that we were looking for all types of kids.”
Sixty students were chosen to be WEB leaders based on their communication skills and strong leadership capabilities among other things, and Rocchi said they were a very diverse group.
“Since we teach all the students, we had some idea of who would be a good fit, and we tried to get a real diverse group that would represent all the populations that will be entering the sixth grade. And I think we have that,” said Rocchi. “There are some good leaders sometimes that have the leadership skills, but they don’t have a way of using them. This will give some of those students a way of using it. We’re really excited about the applicants we chose.”
Clark Middle will hold an orientation day for the Web leaders and all incoming sixth-grade students on Aug. 5., the Friday before school opens on Aug. 10.
The WEB leaders will be there to do activities with the new students, and to give them a tour of the building, let them meet the staff that is there that day so that the environment won’t be as intimidating, and they will have a friendly face waiting for them when the show up the first day of school.
One of the goals for the program, Mounts said, was for it to grow each year, so that the sixth-grade students will want to become WEB leaders when they get to the eighth grade and continue to make Clark Middle a better school.
“The goal of WEB is to ease the transition, but it can spin into so many other things. It helps with teasing and bullying, it helps with academics, the emotional support of the students coming into the building, and it also grows leaders among your student body,” Mounts said. “This gives the kids a way to participate in their school in a way that is not athletics or academics. It helps them to feel they are a part of what is going on in the building.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.