The 11th and 12th grade Peer Educators are currently co-teaching Forums 5 and 6 to the youngest Dana Hall Middle School students. The Forum curriculum is based on the belief that adolescents are faced with challenging issues and ethical dilemmas and are able to make more appropriate and healthier decisions and personal choices when they are well educated and provided with a process for self-reflection.
Peer Educators go through a lengthy training process that equips them to co-teach these adolescent topics along with an adult Forum Facilitator. Topics this trimester include:
- Inclusive friend groups, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, consent
- Digital and social media responsibility, intersectionality with mental health
- Destructive decisions and peer pressure: When can technology be destructive? What other behaviors can be destructive?
- Stress, sleep and mental health (5th grade)/ Stress, sleep and anxiety (6th grade)
- Body image, eating issues, media portrayal, intersectionality with identity
- Perspective on middle school experience (grades, friends, passions, interests, struggles, coping, self-care habits, etc.)
J. Meares-Garcia ’22, one of the Peer Educators teaching 6th grade, said, “For me, Peer Ed is an opportunity to connect with younger students to build healthy habits, relationships and understandings of themselves. And as they learn from us, I hope to learn and grow with them. Working with the 6th graders has been so special. They are so honest and eager to learn; their enthusiasm makes class that much more enjoyable. I want them to be brave and ask questions! My hope is that they feel comfortable enough to ask us questions and even make mistakes sometimes, both in our class and in life.”
I. Sullivan ’21 has served as a Peer Educator for the past two years because it’s “such a rewarding experience knowing that I can leave a positive impact on the Dana Hall community. Coming to Dana Hall freshman year, I was only able to experience Peer Educators in Forum for one year, but I felt as though having a teacher of similar age, who holds similar experiences to me as a current Dana Hall student, had tremendous effects on my learning. I was more engaged, and took everything she said to heart. After that year, I knew I wanted to have the same effect on Dana Hall students as well. Being a Peer Educator to me is about forging connections with students I otherwise never would have interacted with, and encouraging their learning, growth and development through these connections.
“I hope that after each lesson, students take away the topics we discussed in class, whether that be about mental health, digital responsibility, destructive decisions, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships or anything else. However, beyond the material that we teach them, I also hope that students take away leadership qualities and are able to find their voice in a sometimes uncomfortable space. I feel that having these traits makes you a better community member and student, which is Peer Education’s ultimate goal.”
Due to the current cohort model, only Forums 5 and 6 are being taught in person this year. Peer Educators are teaching Forums 7, 8 and 9 virtually.