A partnership between Hamilton Middle School and Trapper Creek Job Corps has students paying it forward by being leaders of their peers and younger students.
“The leadership program has to do with a pay-it-forward initiative,” Dondero said. “This is the third year for the middle school to participate but the first year with the pay-it-forward initiative – where eighth grade students teach seventh grade students. The SUMMIT leadership students at Trapper Creek Job Corps are paying-it-forward to the middle school students.”
Changing school culture is tough according to Dondero. “There’s a lot of fitting in and figuring out for the first time that people are judging you for the way you look, the way you sound, and what clothes you wear,” she said. “Incorporating that in with the Olweus Bullying Program we decided to teach kids about self-awareness, self-regulation, positive collaborative problem solving, and positive effective communication.”
The main facilitators are Trapper Creek Job Corps student leaders, eighth graders who have gone through all phases of training. Seventh graders begin to look at leadership and learn how to be a leader.
The program outlook is positive, as seventh graders are welcomed with cheers from the older encouragers paying it forward. All participants join groups that encourage a “no-doze activity” helping students identify their leadership style, and small group problem solving.
The students were encouraged by Trapper Creek organizers Salvador Ochoa and Evan Gimpel to participate in the small group activities.
“These are purposely designed to frustrate kids so they learn when to ask for help, when to monitor their tone of voice and regulate how they speak to one another,” Gimpel said. “The students are learning how to get everyone to work together in a positive way without getting frustrated.”