Tecumseh Celebrates Family-Youth Initiatives Partnership
Mental illness, traumatic events in a young one’s life, feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, self-injurious behaviors, repetitive behavior episodes, and dysfunctional family situations are examples of the many challenges some of our students face daily in schools throughout the nation. Imagine trying to glean academic information presented in the classroom when one has barriers such as these to contend with on a routine basis. At Tecumseh Local Schools we are attempting to help alleviate the multiple barriers that impede student learning through multiple approaches.
One approach we have sought at Tecumseh Local Schools includes partnering with outside entities in order to offer additional support for our students. We are very pleased to have a strong partnership with Family and Youth Initiatives (FYI). FYI is a non-profit organization committed to providing life-changing education to families and young people in New Carlisle and surrounding areas. Pat Banaszak serves as the Director of FYI. She has been instrumental in offering support to our district.
Julie Driskill, from FYI, has led the Defy Program at Tecumseh High School for the past two years. Defy is an after-school leadership program that meets twice a week. As the program director, Julie Driskill focuses on character-building lessons with the high schoolers, who in turn teach the lessons to middle school students.
Since the start of the program more than 30 students, both high school and middle school, have participated in Defy at various times. Julie indicates that currently the students are developing a month-long campaign to raise awareness for the nationally-recognized Child Abuse Prevention month in April. The students are hoping to be able to visit each Tecumseh school and various community churches and businesses to share educational information on child abuse. At the end of May, the Defy students plan to host a community party where participants will decorate and stuff overnight bags to be given to Clark County foster children.
Last year we worked with FYI personnel to establish an Adult Mentoring Program. Interested community members complete a full-day training in preparation to provide mentoring services for a student one hour each week. Currently, we have 25 community members assigned to mentor students at the middle and high school. The mentoring program has elicited positive results with many of the students. We are still in need of adult mentors. We are very appreciative of our community members who dedicate their time on a routine basis to make a difference in the life of a child. Individuals interested in mentoring may contact FYI personnel Julie Gallagher or Julie Driskill at (937) 845-0900.
The most recent initiative created by FYI personnel, along with our middle and high administrators and guidance counselors, is a Peer Listening Program. Personnel from FYI trained high school students to be peer listeners for middle school students. Often times, students are more receptive talking with a peer as opposed to an adult. Our middle and high school guidance counselors maintain routine communication with our peer listeners throughout the school year and intervene when appropriate.
Approximately 100 students are involved in one of the programs offered by FYI. We are grateful for this partnership and hope to increase the number of students who are involved in the Defy Program, Adult Mentoring Program, and the Peer Listening Program in the future. Parents interested in their child becoming involved in one of the programs may contact the guidance department at the school your child attends.
By Paula Crew, Assistant Superintendent
Tecumseh Local School District