The peer leader program in progress

Peer leader Jordan Blaugrund helps a student on a math problem in Ms. Moeschbergers classroom.

Peer leader Jordan Blaugrund helps a student on a math problem in Ms. Moeschberger’s classroom.

Jamie Simmerson, Contributing Writer

Solon High School (SHS) continues utilizing the Peer Leader Program this year with efforts for students to enhance leadership and people skills to help guide struggling students to success.

Transitioning from utilizing the Peer Leader Program for online school, compared to completely in-person school, was one of the main challenges for the teachers and students who needed another support system in the classroom.

Brad Sims, one of the guidance counselors at SHS, noted that last year, the break out rooms made it very difficult for students to interact and physically receive help from the peer leaders. Now that all students are in person, students will benefit from gaining academic support and being able to talk through concepts in the classroom.

“Honestly, I think if there was ever a need for the program in the building, it would be this year,” Sims said. “As students make that adjustment back to in person learning, having that access to another student in the classroom who’s been there done that, that can kind of go alongside the students I think is wonderful.”

As one of the core advisors, Carla Rodenbucher addressed the history of the Peer Leader Program and how it sprouted at SHS.

“I know that there was Mrs. Kosoriak, Mr. Sims and I think Mrs. Russell and maybe Ms. Somerville,” Rodenbucher said. “…but they actually went to see a peer leader program at another high school and started to think about ways in which we can utilize students. This is because the research shows that sometimes when kids work with students, they are able to explain things sometimes better to certain students and they can share their strategies based on what they learned in prior classes that they took. So, they thought they would bring this back to this high school and replicate the process that would work for Solon High School.”

Rodenbucher has conducted a survey in the past primarily to receive suggestions for improvements in the program. She explained how a majority of the responses resulted in students saying that a portion of the motivation and determination for them to achieve success comes from the assistance of the peer leaders.

“But, overall, the feedback that I get from kids is that they really like having the peer leaders,” Rodenbucher said. “And, for certain kids, it helped them pass their classes. Or, it’s helped them to get help from someone, like immediate feedback in the class opposed to having to wait to get the feedback from a teacher.”

Rodenbucher goes into detail about the importance of gathering students for the program that want the opportunity to help students who are struggling.

“I think it’s just about finding people, and people that don’t necessarily want this to look good on their resume or their college application, because they’re doing volunteerism,” Rodenbucher said. “But this isn’t volunteerism, so these really can’t count toward hours. I really want people that really want to help our school, that really want to have a community feel, that want to help out in any way and maybe they do have a passion for the subject area.”

Anna Guseilo, a math teacher at SHS, added her viewpoints on what can produce an effective peer leader.

“I’ve had, I think, two or three over the past let’s say four years,” Guseilo said. “And, mainly, they contributed by helping struggling students, grade materials, and just being an extra set of hands, eyes and ears in the classroom.”

In addition to the students receiving guidance on their homework or worksheets in class in order to be successful in class, the peer leaders receive benefits from the program as well.

“For the peer leaders, [the experience involves] really developing that sense of leadership and that comfort level, cause I know lots of students go in and they don’t know the students that well, so it’s kind of new for them at the same time,” Sims said. “And, they are putting themselves in a leadership role. So, growing that confidence that comes along with it I think is a great thing. It’s a life skill, they’re going to need it for going to college, if that’s the pathway that they go with. But, really in any sector of life, you’re going to use that.”