The stress and anxiety for students starting their freshman year in high school is often high. This is true for big schools, as well as smaller schools like FlexTech High School in Brighton, Michigan. As an innovative high school that utilizes a project-based learning (PBL) curriculum, FlexTech is used to helping students transition not only into a new school, but to a new way of learning as well.
To start the 2018-19 school year they are launching a national student-to-student mentoring program as another way to support new freshman and sophomore students. The Link Crew program is a year-long orientation and transition program that uses members of the junior and senior class. As leaders, these upperclassmen are trained to be positive role models, motivators, school champions and more. Then, they provide mentoring, support and friendship to freshmen and new sophomores helping to create a solid foundation for high school success.
Project Boomerang is the non-profit behind Link Crew that is now running in 5,000+ schools across the country. They provide in-depth training to the staff members that will be managing the program. Katie Schrock, a Health and Fitness teacher at FlexTech in Brighton, attended the training in April and in turn led two days of intensive leadership training for the nine junior and senior student leaders that were selected through an application and teacher nomination process.
Orientation on August 28 was the kick-off event where the new incoming students were introduced to their Link Crew leaders. There are a total of four crews this year, three comprised of ten freshmen each and one more comprised of ten new sophomores. “As this is the first time many of the students are entering the school and meeting other students it’s important to set a positive tone, and the Link Crew leaders did a great job in helping the new students feel comfortable and welcomed,” said Schrock.
School Leader Ryan Gillis noted that “while experience can be a great teacher, it’s often more believable when it’s coming from a peer at the school, rather than an adult, and that’s a big part of why this program is successful in schools.” Because high school today isn’t just about what happens within the four school walls during the day, the student leaders are developing relationships and friendships to help their crews both in and out of school. In addition to regular check-ins with their crews, leaders will also be planning academic and social follow-up events monthly that will provide a fun, positive and supportive learning and social experience for their crews.
As the new students benefit from this additional support, the junior and senior leaders get a lot of value from the program as well. They’ll be receiving continuous training and mentorship to build their leadership skills throughout the year by staff. “The Link Crew program is just one of the many ways that FlexTech is creating opportunities for students to engage in their learning in unique and real ways. The skills and the experience they gain during their time here is important to their growth, and it will serve them well as they prepare to move on to college and careers,” said Emily Polaczyk, Director of Academics.