A Tradition of Leadership
“Working with little kids, makes me feel advanced and helpful” says Katrina, an eighth grade Peer Helper at St. Christopher’s School in Northeast Philadelphia. For over twenty years, CORA’s Peer Helper program has been inspiring youth to become mentors and leaders in the community.
Katrina’s older sister, Nina, was a peer helper. Nina, like many others, has returned to thank CORA for the opportunities of the Peer Helper Program. Katrina, a bright and friendly student council president, commented “My big sister was a peer helper. She became a leader and I look up to her.”
Throughout the school year, peer helpers are involved in welcoming new transition students, preparing a Cyber-Bullying Presentation and tutoring the first graders. The application process begins in seventh grade when students are interviewed to evaluate their leadership qualities. A dozen candidates are chosen to serve in eighth grade as peer helpers. CORA counselors train the youth to become more comfortable with new situations and themselves. The role of a peer helper is considered an honor and respected in their school. At St. Christopher’s, the first grade teachers are grateful to have the eighth graders to assist with reading skills. The impact of the Peer Helper program is seeded in the tradition of caring for others.
What did students, teachers and counselors say about the impact of the Peer Helper Program?
- David, an eighth grader, says: “I had a peer helper when I was in first grade that made an impression on me. I wanted to give back.”
- First Grade teacher, Ms. Mary McFillin, shares “My children look forward to working with the 8th graders every Monday. The young students are eager to impress the older students.”
- “I have a best friend,” says a first grader. “He is an eighth grader and he is my buddy.”