The Metropolitan Family
Service CAFE Program at Milwaukie High School has created a safe and
welcoming place for students to come after school by implementing a program
framework grounded in Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Many of the students
met in our summer program which offered academic "recovery" credit
as well as a chance to support the transition of incoming 9th graders. Summer
academic cohort activities were augmented with outdoor activities that cultivated
a sense of belonging, developed interpersonal skills, and encouraged perseverance.
This laid a foundation for the CAFÉ after-school program during the school year where students collaborated in cohorts on work projects and had discussions that explored their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They participated in 10-30 minute SEL sessions using inspirED activities as well as life coaching and EQ activities. Throughout the year, 12-15 self-selected students chose to go off-site once a week to mentor at a CAFE after-school program at an elementary school.
Other students participated in after-school soccer and other sports, practicing dedication and developing team skills that led them to try out and participate on MHS teams, many for the first time. Students joined in cultural activities, learning about cultural dance forms and collectively created a mural from conception to painting to installation on the school building which was unveiled at our annual MHS Latino family event, Noche Latina.
Outside of the after-school environment, students in their cohorts
demonstrated a positive online presence by posting encouraging messages and
affirmations. Students addressed the emotions felt throughout the school year
(friends leaving, family events, stress and frustration, depression/anxiety,
etc.) by sharing current challenges; their friends responded with thoughtful
What was the immediate impact? What positive change did we create?
The immediate impact was a
tangible network of support. Students came together to create relationships
across grade levels, across cultures, and interests. Students supported and
encouraged each other to choose healthy relationships, complete difficult
tasks, and create a positive, welcoming space. Students demonstrated
independence, initiative, and improved confidence by taking on leadership
roles, and public speaking opportunities (One team member spoke at
graduation!!!) and exploring new ways of thinking, feeling, and being. These
skills aren’t learned simply in a classroom.
Developing social and emotional skills through experiences outside a regular academic setting allows students to explore new perspectives and discover new things about themselves and others. These are developing leaders who are committed to their goals and willing to seek support they need and offer it to others. Because they’re better able to navigate their own experience, THEY become models of support for each other.
What is our plan for next steps to achieve lasting impact?
The foundation is being built.
The Milwaukie HS team hopes to continue to equip students with skills to
succeed wherever their personal paths will lead them next. Coordinated
efforts and continuity in skill development is key to creating a community
wide movement. The program built community around friendship and helping
students overcome physical, social, and emotional challenges rather than just
focusing strictly on academic achievement. In offering off-site outdoor
experiences, students are challenged outside of academic settings and build
relationships around different skill sets that will support them far beyond
the length of the summer program.
The level of engagement for continuing social-emotional learning is exponentially multiplied when students experience a safe environment to take risks, fail, and try again.
In the fall, the team of mentors could bring the 10-minute inspirED lessons into the elementary school after-school program, leading the activities and increasing emotional literacy, sharing personal experiences with youth. Hearing challenges and obstacles overcome by peers can catalyze the entire community. Students can also use their translation/interpretation skills to share these concepts and activities with the parents and families of students in the CAFE program. Continuity in the program allows students to stay connected to the larger goal of spreading emotional intelligence and empowering members of their families and communities.
How will we measure the impact of our efforts?
The impact we see is measured by the increase in students’ willingness to ask questions and take part in social, communicative, physical and academic activities that challenge them. Students more readily open conversations and take initiative to talk about personal challenges. The increase in students' credit recovery efforts, increase in willingness to attend college visits, and completion of the extended application required for graduation is another measure of the effectiveness of the efforts. Students are becoming more proactive about their goals; they’re curious and committed to their own development and more emotionally literate to discuss their experience.
“I go places with my school that I’d never go.”
“I learned how to be a positive and patient person, even with kids.”
“Teamwork is always the best support.”
“If you mess up, you can always ask friends for help.”
“I got to hang out with younger kids. It would have been cool to have that when I was younger.”
"It was not easy for me, but I knew it wasn't impossible. Along the way, I got stuck and felt defeated. I asked friends and teachers for help I really needed."
"We didn't have the same struggles but we knew what we needed to do to accomplish this for ourselves."
“At Noche Latina, we got to play games and try dishes from different cultures. At the end of the night, we revealed a painting we’d been working on for a long time. It was cool.”
"I went home to my find my mom extremely angry. Making me feel guilty, mad, and feel like everything was my fault. I also thought about my mom being scared, confused, and just helpless. Today I came back and she said that she was just angry and that she loves me and just didn't know how to help me or what to do. This is exactly how she felt. I forgot that she is human."
“I like encouraging other people when they have trouble. We help each other overcome challenges.”
"Thank you for helping me see things in a different perspective. Reminding me of who I am and helping me find my strength to get up and keep moving up again no matter what."
“Being surrounded by friends who motivated me and cheered me up, in a way revived me. This made me realize that I am proud of myself, I know how hard I've tried, and I know I have the strength in me to pursue my goal no matter the cost and no matter what people say.”
“I am done with the graduation requirements, I'm passing my classes, and I know I will be the first of my family to graduate!”
"I have never been good in school. Going to school and knowing I had so many struggles was hard. What I always had on my mind was what if I didn't make it to graduation. I wanted to give up but instead I chose to get more involved in school activities. These activities focused me and keep me engaged in my journey to graduation."
In June of this year, the MHS 21CCLC team was thrilled to learn that we had won the 2016 inspirED "Changemaker Award." This award is a collaboration between Facebook and the Yale University, Center for Social Emotional Learning. This award was created to honor students and educators "passionate about creating innovative programs that implement principles of Social Emotional Learning in a school setting." We will receive a cash award and all expenses paid invitations for two program educators and two students to attend the Changemaker Summit to be held at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California in October, 2016.
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