To celebrate and explore the potential of student leadership, Teach For All is collecting and sharing stories from across the network and around the globe. When students LEAD, we all LEARN.

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Newark Student Leaders Bring Together Families, Support Those in Need

Student Leaders
East Side High School (Newark, NJ) Peer Group Connection (PGC)
Adult Supporter
Karin Leon, Victor Fernandes and Margo Ross
Age of Students
16-18

Please describe how your students exercised their leadership and the impact they had.

In 2011, Newark's East Side High School (ESHS) began a partnership with the Center for Supportive Schools (CSS) to put into place Peer Group Connection (PGC), an evidence-based and school-based program that supports and eases students’ transition from middle to high school. The program has become a thriving part of East Side's school community. There are currently 30 PGC student leaders at the school who are enrolled in a daily class where they learn to be mentors and positive role models for incoming freshmen. Each week, these 30 student leaders meet with small groups of East Side's 225 freshmen to lead engaging discussions and activities that enable the younger students to build positive relationships and learn and practice essential social and emotional skills. Each year, the student leaders have planned and executed a Family Night event designed to bring together students and their families and encourage positive parent-teen communication. The 2016 event brought together over 150 students and caretakers and raised $1,000 for St. John's Soup Kitchen. Student leaders utilized skills such as problem solving, multi-tasking, and critical thinking to participate in the Charity of Champions program and have demonstrated a strong commitment to citizenship and community service.

What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?

East Side High School faculty members Ms. Karin Leon and Mr. Victor Fernandes serve as PGC faculty advisors. They effectively model, coach, and support students on how to conduct PGC outreaches and special activities such as Family Night with mastery and success.

What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?

This experience of raising funds for St. John’s Soup Kitchen in Newark, New Jersey has exemplified the importance of being a steward of one’s community. The students learned that the strength of a community is derived from its citizens and their ambitions to continuously improve the lives for all stakeholders. This experience has made East Side's student leaders better classmates, role models, neighbors, friends, sons and daughters.