Peer Buddy Project

June & July 2007

Lime Kiln Middle School, Howard County, Melissa Preston

Students from Lime Kiln Middle School (LKMS) assisted students at a nearby school that exclusively serves students with disabilities. Long after their school careers are over, students from both schools will live in the same communities, go to the same physicians, be governed by the same laws, and may work in the same businesses. This was the driving force behind establishing a group of citizens who will advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Our program fosters friendships and teaches valuable interpersonal skills.

Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?

Our Peer Buddy project met education, public safety, disability awareness, and community outreach needs.

Prior to the opening of a new building to house the Cedar Lane Program, students with low incidence disabilities were geographically, socially, and academically segregated from the general education population. Students at LKMS were asked, on a voluntary basis, to devote part of their school day to helping students at Cedar Lane School (CLS), Howard County’s only public, separate day school for students with low incidence disabilities. Students at both schools benefited from the projects in the fall and the spring of the 2005-2006 school year.

Best Practice 2: How as the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?

Aspects of the essential curriculum were reinforced through peer tutoring, guest speakers, field trips and cooperative learning. Concepts from the Voluntary State Curriculum in Math and Reading, Social Studies, Health, Music and technology Education were explored.

Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?

Peer Buddies were asked to fill out reflective feedback forms throughout the experience and produce an artifact at the end of the project that applied what they had learned through the project.

Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?

Students at LKMS were assigned to a Cedar Lane middle level classroom and helped design lessons, adapt materials, and implement plans. Students were also asked to create some artifact based on their own individual experience.

Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?

Our primary partner was Cedar Lane School. The project received a fair amount of attention from the media and local community. Several students were nominated for Association for Retarded Citizens of Howard County student awards. Feature stories were done by the Baltimore Sun and Howard County Cable Television Access Channel.

Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?

Forms and outlines were written during the summer of 2005. Recruiting took place in Health and Physical Education classes in the Fall of 2005. Principals at both schools were made aware of the intentions of the program and supported the work.

Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?

Knowledge of disabilities and personal advocacy were acquired. Students also developed skills in leadership, interpersonal communication, augmentative communication, problem solving, reliability, responsibility, behavior intervention and management, planning, and cooperative learning. Students’ sense of empathy was enhanced through participation in sensitivity training.