The PALS (Peer Assistance, Leadership, and Service) are young people who help other kids.
Each of the 30+ PALS works individually with 3-5 assigned at-risk students in addition to working with new students, conducting peer mediations, and working with individuals referred by counselors or teachers.
We work with over 100 specifically designated at risk students in elementary and middle schools as well as at Ryan. The time spent with these students is one-on-one to give them a positive role model and to build self-confidence. The sooner we can reach troubled kids, the more we can impact their future (and prevent incidents like Columbine, Co).
The PALS work to make new students feel comfortable at Ryan. We try to make the transition from their old school to ours more manageable. The PALS meet new students as soon after their arrival as possible. We go through the food line with them, sit with them in the cafeteria, learn their interests, and introduce them to positive people who share those same interests. Additionally, we talk to each again [one-on-one] once each month as well as host a special lunch for all new students each month. New students are vulnerable in our school of 1900 students, and we help them until they find their niche.
PALS offer peer mediations so that when students are having conflicts -- whether physical or verbal-- they can request our assistance. Adults are willing to help, but it is often peers who are most effective in helping. We help angry students rephrase volatile words into feeling words that are more palpable. We know how to extricate situations to reveal the real issues causing anger and how to neutralize animosity. We are trained and certified by professionals. We can mediate five angry teenagers in English or Spanish or even a student and teacher. The year we began mediations, the principals said that we had fewer fights. They attributed it to our mediations.
The PALS make a commitment to be drug, alcohol, and tobacco free, to never break confidentiality, and to be a role model inside and outside of school. We have made it “cool” to do the right things. We match the demographics of our student population; we have a representative from all races, all academic levels, all economic levels, and most school organizations. We have a PAL in every segment of our school’s society being a role model, abstaining from inappropriate behavior, and unofficially [immediately] mediating conflicts among our peers -- whether it’s in the classroom, on the athletic field, or elsewhere.
If you have any questions, please contact Jay Swafford, our teacher, at 940-369-3056