Connecting Students 2 Students

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T-shirt design for this year's Purple Up shirts.

Local elementary school sees success in first year of S2S program



There are approximately 2 million military children in the United States, ranging from newborn to 18 years old, with 1.3 million being school-aged.

R.V. Kerr Elementary in Bossier City has a military student population of 31 percent. Fifth graders Gracey, Emma, Jayda and Devin are among this unique group of students.

To help students transition into their school, they have become school ambassadors…essentially the first friends a new student makes when entering the school. It’s part of Project SEW-B-It, an initiative to address and expand services concerning the social and emotional well-being of children.

At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, the Bossier school district received a $1 million DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) grant for SEW-B-It’s implementation at Airline High, Kerr Elementary, Parkway High and Stockwell Place Elementary. A component of the grant is the S2S program, which has been a part of Bossier High School for the last three years. Bossier Schools’ Military Student Liaison Georgette Price oversees the S2S programs.

The goal of S2S is to create 100-percent acceptance at the school level and help new students, both military and non-military, quickly become a part of the school family. Student leaders in S2S receive special training on how best to integrate new classmates into daily activities and campus life.

Kerr Elementary’s fourth and fifth grade ambassadors are part of an Elementary Student 2 Student initiative. Gracey and Emma said their job as ambassadors is to not only welcome new students, but to be role models for everyone at school.

“We show them around school and teach them their responsibilities at school,” Emma said referring to the school’s expectations (Kind, Eager to learn, Respectful, Responsible).

Jayda knows exactly what it’s like to be the new kid at school.

“I’ve moved around most of my life,” she said. “I’ve lived in Turkey, Georgia, Mississippi…this is the longest place I’ve stayed so far. Kerr is the place I feel most welcome.”

Devin, too, has traveled the world as a military dependent. He has lived in New Mexico, Ohio and home schooled while living in Italy. His family already knows they will be moving overseas again soon.

“I’m excited to be in a new area, but I’m also a little nervous,” he said. “Going into my new school, I’ll be more confident knowing the things I’ve learned as a school ambassador this year.”

Kerr Curriculum Coach Lisa Neuman couldn’t be more proud of her first year ambassadors. The 10 fourth and fifth graders have already made quite an impression on the school and a lasting legacy for others to achieve in the coming years.

Principal Janet Doughty is thankful for the SEW-B-It grant and the opportunity it provides to students.

“I’m full of pride and very proud to see our students walking down this pathway to success,” Doughty said. “It warms my heart seeing them talking to new students and building friendships with their peers. They have set the bar really high in just our first year.”

Gracey said it’s an honor to be part of the first Elementary S2S ambassadors at Kerr Elementary.

“I feel like we’re leaving a mark on the school,” she said. “My younger siblings now want to be like me and do the same thing I’m doing. I’m happy that I can be a positive influence on them.”

Jayda hopes schools around the world will one day have an ambassador’s program like Kerr Elementary does. She plans to take the strategies of Kerr’s ambassadors program and use them at her new school in Florida next year.