Elkmont High School introduces social emotional workshops

Elkmont

We stand as one. Four words with a powerful meaning.

It’s a motto that has been echoed throughout the Elkmont High School campus over the last few weeks.

With tragedy, an ongoing global pandemic, and strained academic performance among other things, principal Elizabeth Cantrell and other staff members brainstormed ways they and the students could support each other this school year.

The solution? Social Emotional Learning workshops and the Peer Helpers Program.

“The main goal of a peer helper is simply to observe other students and support them,” said Annessa Jenkins, one of Elkmont High School’s peer helper coordinators. “Peer helpers are not counselors or therapists. They are trained to help other students come to their own conclusions and resolve their own issues by active listening, effective questioning, and so much more.”

Since August, the current group of peer helpers have gone through an extensive 5-week training to become a Certified Peer Helper.

During that time they’ve also helped implement the Prevention and Awareness for Total Health (PATH) plan, a requirement of the Peer Helpers Program. As part of the plan, the school has set aside three workshop days each semester that are dedicated strictly to social emotional learning.

According to Jenkins, a peer helper or another adult such as a gifted teacher, are assigned to a core subject or elective teacher. Each core subject and elective class is then given a specific topic to cover.

Topics range from self-harm and suicide to substance abuse and bullying. Coping skills and grief, cyberbullying, and online presence are also being covered.

“In addition to these workshops, we are also planning awareness campaigns and activities that not only tie into the PATH curriculum, but more importantly our theme of building relationships,” Jenkins said.

Beginning this week, Peer Helps started gathering data for the school year.

In the Peer Helper Portal, peer helpers are responsible for logging any interactions they have with other students, whether it be on or off campus. These logs will allow teachers and administrators to see what big issues students are having.

Elkmont SEL