By Connie and Lynn Baer
In the 2015-2016 school year, Grossmont High School began its PRIDE program, which is designed to teach students school-wide behavioral expectations through a reward program that reinforces positive behaviors. GHS PRIDE encourages students to be prepared, respectful, involved, disciplined, and empathetic (PRIDE). For the past four years, the program has positively impacted the culture of the school. Since its inception, Foothiller staff and students have been searching for ways to complement and improve PRIDE.
“We have been on a social emotional learning journey on our campus,” said ASB advisor Jeremy Hersch. “This led us to a relationship with Yale University, and in particular, the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.”
Searching for more information, Sept. 28-29, 2017, Hersch and fellow GHS teacher Megan Long, and students Kamryn Correll and Autumn Maas attended a Youth Empowerment Leadership Lab (YELL) at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
“I learned a lot about how to make a plan and achieve the goals I want for our school to progress,” Mass said. “Kamryn Correll and I were able to share our PRIDE program with other schools, as well as with Facebook employees. That Grossmont has been able to attract the attention of a multibillion-dollar company is astonishing, to say the least. I know that it would not have happened if it were not for our amazing and efficient adviser Jeremy Hersch.”
The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence (YCEI), in collaboration with Facebook for Education, created InspirED, a set of free resources to support teams of high schoolers in creating positive changes in their schools and communities.
According to Marc Brackett, director of the YCEI, the program uses “the power of emotions to create a healthier, more equitable and compassionate society.”
On Jan. 18, the school-wide weekly Friday PRIDE lesson was “Music and Emotions.” According to Assistant Principal Denise Bates in her weekly PRIDE email to the staff, “We are continuing our journey through the Yale lessons to understand emotions. This lesson looks at the influence of music. It can be used as a tool to shift emotional states.”
On Nov. 2, 2018, Grossmont High hosted a free workshop with people from Facebook and the YCEI in the school library. One hundred student leaders from most of the Grossmont Union High School District schools attended, along with leaders from Cathedral, Patrick Henry, and Mission Bay High Schools. At the event, students were trained to implement the model of InspirED in their schools through projects on their individual campuses.
About the workshop, GHS PRIDE class member Olivia Wrangler recalls, “I was surrounded by people who wanted to help our school as much as I do. We were able to come up with some great ideas about how to improve our campus’s cleanliness by trying to reduce the amount of trash on campus. When we presented this idea, students from other schools gave us feedback on our ideas, which gave us more to think about. The YELL program is a great way to come up with ideas to improve schools by discussing problems and sharing ideas of ways to improve. The InspirED program has improved the PRIDE program by giving us a list of things that we can implement at Grossmont.”
GHS PRIDE coordinator, teacher Megan Long, reflects, “The fact Yale and Facebook take the time and provide the resources to value student voice only enhances the students’ passion for positive change. Yale and Facebook have created a structure for students to thrive in their pursuits on campus. We value the relationships Grossmont has built with Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence and with Facebook. They have supported our journey with social emotional learning; we would not have been able to make the progress we have made without them.”
For 98 years, Foothillers have been nurtured by caring and supportive teachers and staff who are concerned not just about the academic learning of their students, but also with their emotional and physical well-being. The YELL program continues this decades-long tradition of caring.
For more information about the wonderful things happening at Grossmont, please visit the museum from noon-3:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 or by appointment on other Wednesdays. To explore our 98 years of Foothiller history, visit our website at foothillermuseum.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 619-668-6140.
—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum.