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On the Set: Day 13

Posted on Jun 17, 2014

Today we had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Character Plus National Conference at the Saint Charles Convention Center. This conference is dedicated to strengthening character values of young adults to make them better students, instructors and leaders in the classroom. There are many organizations attending this conference, all working towards the same goal of building character in young adults eliminating the problem of bullying in schools. Cyndi, along with Girls in the Know, had the chance to promote their Marshall Mentoring Program and we had the chance to hear from actual mentors talk about their mentoring experience. Cyndi started the Marshall Movement with just the intention of sharing Marshall’s courage and strength with children. She stated that Marshall is “ageless,” his message “crosses all boundaries” and “his voice is universal.” She never thought the audience for the Movement’s messages would grow to be as large. This program, this past year, has been implemented in three school districts: Lindbergh, Ladue and the Special School District. Here, it was taught in traditional classroom settings, after school programs and with one-to-one mentoring respectively. Gina Martin, Executive Director of Girls in the Know and Julie Walther-Scneibel, speaker for Girls in the Know and coordinator of curriculum, workshops and camps, talked a bit more about this program and its intentions. The program works with young girls to empower them to make positive, healthy choices for themselves and to teach other students to do the same. It consists of peer mentors who are high school age girls who are taught to handle difficult situations involving peers and to get participants to engage with their lesson plans. There were many expected outcomes of this program and it out-performed its expectations. Some of these outcomes include teaching the Common Core Standards of English and Reading, implementing lesson plans, and strengthening the leadership qualities and college readiness skills of the mentors. 93% of these mentors stated that they understand empathy on a deeper level while 100% of them stated that they love the variety of discussion plans, videos and other tools given to them to teach their peers. Furthermore, 100% of the mentors said that they have improved their college readiness skills through this program. The initial programs focused on only the empathy but later programs will focus on all the cornerstones of empathy, strength, courage/perseverance, kindness and forgiveness. These cornerstones focus on core ethical and performance values, thinking, feeling and doing, caring attachments, preventing cruelty, moral action, meaningful curriculum, self-motivation and students in leadership. By focusing on these areas, students are able to develop into effective student leaders and better equip themselves to handle situations of bullying. After this description of the program, students who were either mentors of in the program spoke on their own experienced. Kyle, a boy who was a part of the program, who drew a parallel between the physical scars that adorn Marshall’s face and body with the emotional scars which accompany the pain and suffering that bullying leaves behind. All of these students felt that they grasped a larger understanding of the concept of empathy and felt that if empathy were given more consideration, a lot of the problems with bullying would cease to exist.