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Peer-to-Peer

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Peer-to-Peer

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Photo Courtesy of: Mallory Swope

Mallory Swope, EMS Press Staff

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Peer-to-Peer is a program allowing students from TCAPS and special needs students from TBAISD to mingle and create a friendship. Special education principal, Erin Ryan, has been directing the program for three years. But the program has been at East for about six years in total.

For anyone who has ever been a part of the program, it is clear that all of the students benefit from it in an indescribable way.

“Peer to peer is an amazing way for the TBAISD kids to develop appropriate social skills, communication skills, and problem solving skills,” Ryan said. “It is also an opportunity for them to make friends that are their same age, and in the same environment.”

In addition to being a major benefit for the special ed students, it pays off for the peer mentors.

“The biggest benefit for the peer mentors is the development of leadership proficiency, and empathy for other people,”  Ryan said. “When the mentors are in the classes, they’re the shining light for the peers.”

Eighth grader Olivia Strom was part of the program in seventh grade.

“I would sometimes walk with my peer in the morning before school,” she said, “and getting to watch his smile stretch from ear to ear was incredible.”

The peer-to-peer program integrates students with special needs into our everyday functions, which helps them feel like they fit in. Students begin to recognize them as fellow Trojans, and begin to look out for them, while also building camaraderie.

“Most of the peers are better than the people I know in general education. They’re just as friendly, and funny, and nice as a normal person,” said Strom. “All they want is the recognition from the people they look up to.”

Expectations for the mentors are high, which is understandable when considering what a top notch program it is.

“We don’t want the people who will use [peer to peer] as an excuse for getting out of advisory,” Ryan said. “It has to be taken seriously by the students, because it’s something taken seriously by me.”

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