It begins with a thought….
Students today are faced with increasing mixed messages and new challenges as the world quickly evolves. How do we help students create balance in a “more is better” world?
It begins with a thought, “Change your thoughts and you change your world,” says Norman Vincent Peale. Sounds too simple to be true, right? There is an emerging field of positive psychology that is focused on substantiating this claim. One study conducted at UC Davis showed that those who did a simple act of writing down 5 things they were grateful for 10 consecutive weeks experienced many benefits of “focusing on the positive” including fewer health complaints and increased feelings of happiness.
Schools have known this to be true for some time. There are many ways we strive help students do this in an educational setting, which will hopefully carry over into other areas of their lives. We utilize a “strengths-based” perspective, where we view students through the lens of “what is working” rather than what is not going well, so we can help them reframe a situation or circumstance. One such tool used is Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, where students step outside of the traditional concept of “intelligence” to see that we are all born with a wide range gifts/talents and have much value to offer the world. Developing this sense of value and providing opportunities for meaningful participation is one of the “protective factors” identified by the Search Institute that helps teens build resiliency to face life’s obstacles/challenges and overcome them in a healthy way.
I am excited to share that we have implemented a program here, Link Crew. It is a nationally recognized student-led leadership program, which helps freshman ease into high school by providing a warm welcome. Through the Link Crew program, freshmen are paired with junior and senior leaders who have been carefully selected to serve as positive role models emphasizing strong relationships through activities that promote connection. Link Crew is built on the belief that students can help students succeed.
Another vital component of the SMHS Student Support Program is our Peer Mentors. I work with these hand-picked students each semester and place them in classrooms to work with our most impacted students. The goals of the program include assisting with successful integration for students with special needs and being a supportive/encouraging presence to help others build self confidence. We also coordinate a monthly lunch time event, "Lunch Bunch" to provide more opportunities to connect and develop relationships.
We are so fortunate here at San Marino High school. From the supportive/involved parents and community members to the quality and variety of offerings, students have many options available where they can explore their talents/interests, create positive bonds and provide service to others.
I am so privileged to part of this process as the SMHS Support Services/Wellness Counselor to help implement comprehensive school-wide programs to address the needs of the whole student in this ever-changing world to help them build resiliency to carry with them in life far beyond their high school years.