STMA Middle School Students Present at the School Boards Association Annual Conference
Both of St. Michael-Albertville’s Middle School transition programs were featured at the Minnesota School Boards Association’s annual Leadership Conference this past Thursday, January 17th, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The programs were a part of the conference’s Show and Tell event, which highlights some of the state’s most unique and outstanding programs in education. Students representing STMA were Jack Fiedler and Kaitlyn Zachman from East, and Jackson Larson and McKenna Hatch from West.
MSBA’s annual Leadership Conference draws nearly 2,000 school board members and administrators. The Show and Tell event is an opportunity for conference attendees to learn more about innovative programs from across the state. There were 19 programs featured in this year’s Show and Tell.
STMA’s transition program is better known as WEB, which stands for Where Everybody Belongs. WEB began during the 2009-10 school year when the original middle school split into East and West. The program is a combination mentorship and leadership program for eighth graders in each building.
On the mentorship side, select eighth grade WEB Leaders serve as mentors to the incoming fifth graders each year. This begins with WEB Orientation before the school year begins, and continues throughout the year with social events hosted by the WEB Leaders and small group lessons where the WEB Leaders work with the fifth graders to teach a variety of important strategies to help them make a successful transition to middle school. Lesson topics include study skills, how to avoid rumors and gossip, and how a positive attitude can contribute to a positive school climate. In addition, the WEB Leaders plan and coordinate a variety of before and after school social activities for the fifth graders.
Much of the ownership for these events and the WEB program is put on the shoulders of the WEB Leaders themselves and they are constantly developing their own leadership skills throughout the year. They have truly invested themselves and their time in creating an even more successful and welcoming school community. Jack Fiedler, a WEB Leader from East, said “WEB has been great for the fifth graders and myself as an eighth grader. I have developed a new sense of responsibility at school because it is my job to look after my WEB kids." The positive influence of the WEB Leaders spreads beyond the fifth graders that they mentor to the rest of their peers that they interact with on a daily basis and to the broader STMA community.
McKenna Hatch, a WEB Leader from West, summed up the WEB program and its impact best when she said “I remember when I was a new fifth grader and how nervous I was. But, I also remember the great experience I had with my WEB Leaders and how welcome they made me feel. I really want to give something back to my school by helping everyone feel like they belong.”