Peer to Peer Leadership is a new course being offered at Moorhead High focused on peer mentorship. Students participating in this course have the opportunity to build community networks, foster relationships with people with disabilities and take social risks by meeting new people with diverse backgrounds. As students build authentic social relationships, understand the value of inclusion of all people and appreciate differences in others, they work on developing effective communication and leadership skills to be a role model within MHS and the community.
Three class periods a week, mentors participate in specific leadership and mentoring curriculum. The other two days each week, are set up as a combined class time for mentors and special education mentees. During this time, the focus is to target social skills and purposeful activities designed to facilitate social relationships.
Special education teacher Meagan Blake says that the genuine relationships built between the mentors and mentees are a real joy to the students. “Our students are learning how to be more empathetic, understanding and accepting of each other’s unique and individual differences. Our peer to peer students are also learning how to be strong leaders, take risks, and create a culture that is more inclusive and accepting of all.”
The mentors in the class are breaking down barriers and are looking for ways to use their leadership skills in order to foster an inclusive school culture. Student Shay Briggs said, “Signing up for this class was a big step for me. I was nervous because I didn’t think that I had leadership skills or could become a good mentor for the mentees. But being in Peer to Peer has shown me that anyone can be a great mentor or leader by just being there for others. Getting to know the mentees and forming relationships with them has impacted me along with learning with them along the way.”
In November, the class hosted a Friendsgiving event where they invited their friends and their mentees to have a fun meal together. Another meaningful event was a shoe project that encouraged the class to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Students learned about the components of social intelligence. They interviewed a person and then told that person’s story by decorating a pair of shoes to represent that person.
“My favorite thing about peer to peer leadership is providing social opportunities for all students in and outside of school. Students are challenged to step out of their comfort zone to try new things, and they are gaining confidence in themselves that they didn’t have before. It’s truly inspiring to watch organic relationships form between mentors and mentees,” said Rachel Pulling, special education teacher.