Elementary student Trey Hayes and Annagrace Jackson are always willing to give a helping hand to their peers when it comes to social matters such as bullying.
During a recent Board of Education meeting for Sampson County Schools, the children talked about being school ambassadors. While presenting Annagrace quoted Charlie Chaplin who said “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world, not even our troubles.”
“This quote is so powerful in inspiring someone to stand up, brush themselves off and smile,” said Annagrace, a student at Roseboro Elementary School.
Their work is part of the 4-S: Supportive Services for Student Success program, which provides counseling and support services to improve school environments throughout the district.
Nine elementary schools are part of the School Counseling Grant Program. Sampson County Schools received close to $400,000 and was one of 60 recipients in 24 states awarded in 2012 by the U.S. Department of Education. The goals of the grant is to reduce incidents of discipline, bullying and improving attendance. Another mentioned programs associated with 4-S included the Good Behavior Game, a classroom management program that teaches students self-control, self-management and self-regulation.
B.G. Kennedy, 4-S Grant counselor and social worker, joined the students during the presentation. He was assisted by counselors Brittney Copeland and Kembrie Farrow. The program added one full-time school counselor, one part-time school counselor and three full-time school social workers.
The Safe School Ambassadors program teaches students to intervene in a positive way when they encounter conflicts with other students. About 20 students at each school are trained to help.
“These are outstanding ambassadors who are making a difference,” Kennedy said.
Annagrace said being an ambassador for the program has helped her become more open to students and experiences.
“I try not to let my friends mistreat others,” she said to the board and the audience.
She also believes it made her school a better and safer place. According to statistics provided by the district, classroom disruptions and discipline referrals decreased.
“There is less bullying and mistreatment,” Annagrace said.
School officials reported that bullying decreased compared to the previous school year. Ten percent of student survey respondents reported that they push or hit a student on purpose, compared to 14 percent in the previous years. Ten percent of student survey respondents reported that they push or hit a student on purpose, compared to 14 percent in the previous years. However, 49 percent of 4th- and 5th-graders said they were victims of at least one bullying incident, compared to 46 percent last year.
Trey, a student at Union Intermediate School, shared the same sentiments regarding the program. He mentioned how some conflicts can be solved before it get to the principal.
“Being a safe school ambassador is important to me becuase I get to help people with their problems,” Trey said.
After the student presentations, Kennedy alluded to how the student are just a couple of examples when it comes to leadership in the schools. Currently, about 80 students are trained through the program. Kennedy believes those students are making an impact in middle schools, although the program does not exist on that level.
“But there’s ambassadors there and they’re making a difference,” Kennedy said. “It’s a great program and I’m delighted to be a part of it.”