Here in LISD, we have a clearly defined set of Guiding Documents that form the foundation of our goals and our purpose as a district. Among these documents are principles, behaviors and traits that form a visible trend.
These traits – such as concern for others, social awareness, contribution and stewardship, loyalty and character development – all come together to form a successful leader. Not only do we strive to lead our students to a bright future, we strive to lead leaders to a bright future.
I have personally witnessed these leadership traits in action among individual students, school programs, as well as at districtwide events. One particular group of students making an impact at this level is our LISD PALS.
PALS focus on Peer Assistance Leadership Service. They strive to be role models in their school and community by promoting healthy choices, as well as a culture of kindness, positivity, support and inclusivity. For example, at one of our high schools, the PALS have weekly Lunch Buddies meetings with special education students.
This idea of being inclusive to all is one shared in the PALS program districtwide. PALS teachers tell me they encourage their students to exhibit these leadership traits in the classroom every day. We want PALS to be aware of the plight of their classmates. Our PALS students are trained to notice the student sitting alone in the corner and to then engage that child in the classroom activity.
In addition to working in their own schools, PALS serve as mentors to elementary and middle school students in their school’s feeder pattern. They focus on academic, social and emotional leadership skills during these weekly visits. To adequately prepare them to work with younger students, PALS go through an application and training process in order to be a mentor.
Last year, for the first time, approximately 500 LISD PALS came together for a PALS Picnic. The PALS heard from a motivational teacher and participated in bonding activities and games as a group. That’s 500 teenagers coming together with a unified mindset of positively impacting their community! How amazing is that?
By providing these students with outlets to practice these leadership skills, we can prepare future generations to practice inclusivity, to be leaders among their peers and to promote a culture of kindness in our schools.