Mirrors kick-starts conversation at Dellwood
A youth training and mentorship programme has had an immediate impact on pupils.
Tina Duke, the principal at Dellwood Middle School, said a young girl pupil had told her that she planned to go to college — the first in her family to do so.
Ms Duke, whose school is in Pembroke on the edge of Hamilton, said: “You don’t hear that so much these days — especially from these children in the inner city.
“There are so many social issues that students come to school with. There are so many social issues in our community at large.”
But she added: “When children step into here, it’s a hopeful place.”
She was speaking after students and staff members at the school took part in the Mirrors’ 8 Keys of Excellence programme earlier this month.
Staff at the school underwent two days of training before they held three days of team-building activities for pupils.
The eight keys were designed to help pupils make good choices and to encourage them to think in different ways.
The school will focus on one key each month and teachers will get support to deliver the life lessons.
Ms Duke said the training her teachers received was “phenomenal”. She added: “Staff were so engaged — it was camaraderie.”
Reaction from her staff had been good. Ms Duke said that one member of staff declared that the experience was the best professional development she had done.
She said the training had led to her teachers “speaking the same language” to pupils.
“The staff here genuinely care about children, she explained. “The issue was that we weren’t all speaking the same language.
“What this has done — it’s a common language. It’s changed the culture already. It’s unified us.”
Kali Douglas, Dellwood’s deputy principal, said the training encouraged children to be kinder and more respectful to each other.
Ms Douglas added the training also emphasised the importance of leading by example to teachers.
She said: “If we model, as the adults, and show students how to act appropriately, they can do it. They can be their very best selves.”
Pupils also backed the eight keys programme.
Mia Swan said that it had been good to see teachers in a new light outside the classroom.
The M3 student added: “I got to see a different side of them that I have never seen before.”
She said the activities had also helped to foster trust among pupils.
Amias Lightbourne said the programme allowed for interaction between the students and teachers. The M3 pupil added: “We got to see how everyone works together.”
A parent meeting this month attracted more than 100 attendees — the school’s highest number.
Ms Duke credited the turnout to pupils relaying their experiences to their parents.
She said the Mirrors programme had helped kick-start conversations among the pupils.
She added: “The sky’s the limit. You can reach. You take ownership of this. You determine where you are going.”