W.E.B. Program Helping Students Transition to Middle School
Copley-Fairlawn Middle School is helping 5th graders prepare for the big step to middle school by implementing the Where Everyone Belongs (W.E.B.) program. In W.E.B., a group of 8th graders were trained in leadership skills the previous year so they can mentor small groups of 5th grade students as they enter middle school. This mentoring helps create safety and comfort for the young students who may be feeling anxiety about beginning middle school.
Creating a safe and positive learning environment for students has long been a priority for Copley-Fairlawn schools, and more and more studies are finding that students who have a positive middle school experience carry that success over to high school.
Co-advisor and 7th grade teacher Ms. Cherkala said the effects have been positive all around. “It’s been really great to see the 8th graders take on this important role,” she said. “And seeing the 5th graders be able to take a breath and begin their middle school years with less anxiety will have a long-lasting effect for everyone.”
W.E.B. has three main goals to aid students in their transition including physical and emotional safety, making sure students are receiving the correct information from peers, and allowing students to make connections so they have familiar faces when they begin the school year.
Co-advisor and 7th grade teacher Mr. Harris added that the 8th graders do a great job of providing mentorship throughout the school year. “Our 8th grade students have planned fun and helpful activities,” Mr. Harris said. “They gave building tours to incoming 5th graders, they wrote valentines to the 5th graders and even gave all the 5th grade classes a guidance lesson on kindness.”
Families have also gotten in on the fun as well, providing cookies and other prizes for Winter Blast games. The PTA helped out, providing funds for W.E.B. t-shirts for the 8th grade leaders. The collaboration of 8th graders and the positive effect it has had on the incoming middle schoolers is another great example of how students can have a lasting impact on the growth of their peers. In the case of the W.E.B. program, empowering 8th grade students to become mentors, allows the 5th grade students to feel a connection that will carry them through these important developmental years.