The GFS Peer Education program began in the
2001-2002 school year. GFS has for many years had a strong Decision
Making curriculum. Counselors in Middle and Upper Schools meet with
students in all grade levels to talk about life choices. However,
we are well aware that students share information and hear information
differently when conversing with peers.
Peer Educators are 10th and 11th graders.
They are “tapped” by the faculty advisors to the program.
We do not seek application to the program, partially because rejection
from the program is based largely on personality characteristics,
and it seems counter to the culture of GFS to do this. When students
“graduate” from the Peer Ed program in their senior
year, they become senior “Peer Mentors.” The Peer Mentors
do the majority of the teaching at our annual retreat, during which
the majority of our training for Peer Educators take place.
For the first few years we taught at the
6th grade level. Topics included cliques, body image, stress management,
and the effect media has on our views of alcohol and tobacco. In
the 2004-2005 school year, we decided to shift our focus to the
8th grade. We had begun to hear about more risk-taking behaviors
shifting into the middle school, and realized that we needed to
address these issues head-on.
The lesson plans we share in the web page
are not truly lesson plans. They are skeletons for discussions on
three topics: Dangerous and Risky Behavior, Alcohol and other Drugs,
and Sex and Relationships. Our first lesson is low key; 8th grade
girls will be given the chance to ask questions about life in the
Upper School. This session is meant to help students build rapport
with each other and to open the door for later, more serious conversations.
This year, the Peer Mentors also have begun
to teach in the 9th grade. They go into pre-existing Decision Making
classes which are usually taught by the school counselors. Topics
the Peer Mentors can discuss with the 9th grade can range from school
work and pressure to drinking to college applications to parent
and family pressure.