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  • From the Superintendent’s Seat:
    Giving Students a Turn to Teach

    by Dr. Carole G. Hankin with Randi T. Sachs

    Some of the most powerful lessons taught in school are given by students. I encourage programs that give children the opportunity to bring lessons to each other.

    Our Peer Educators program is a full-credit course that provides high school students with training on how to teach younger children about conflict resolution and other socialization issues. The students meet with all of the district’s third graders in the spring.

    Recently, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) wanted to talk to students in Driver’s Education classes about the dangers of driving while impaired and give them a “Contract for Life.” The document, a contract for the students and their parents to sign, calls for the student to promise never to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and never agree to be a passenger if the sobriety of the driver is in question. The parents in turn promise to provide safe transportation (even late at night) and to refrain from discussion of the incident until a time when everyone is calm and rested. It requires that parents acknowledge that teens may be faced with making difficult decisions when they become drivers, and it gives the teen a guarantee that they can always turn to their parents for the help they need. The fact that the suggestion came from their peers seemed to have a significant impact on the driving students. The students listened to them.

    Down the hall, members of Syosset’s Martin Luther King Club were rehearsing a puppet show they would be presenting to the second graders in the elementary schools. After the performance of the “The Ugly Duckling,” the club members visited the classes and led discussions on prejudice and accepting the differences of others. Here again, the messenger is essential to the power of the message.

    Eighth graders were treated to a concert by the high school’s Chamber Choir. After they sang, choir members talked about the music program opportunities that the eighth graders will have when they move to high school next year. No words from a guidance counselor or music teacher could have had the same effect as that performance did. ‘You can do this too,’ they demonstrated, ‘we’re just a few years older than you.’

    Giving our students the opportunity to deliver an important message and to serve as role models is something all educators should embrace. #

    Dr. Hankin is superintendent of Syosset Central School District. Randi Sachs is Public Information Officer of Syosset Schools.

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