This past school year, Mrs. Jan Kloberdanz’s 6th grade reading class has been providing peer helpers every day to Mrs. Susan. Arifi’s special needs class at Lenihan Intermediate School. They have helped students with reading, writing, science experiments and socialization skills.
“Diversity helps kids to not only become comfortable with differences, but also enjoy, appreciate, and value them,” Kloberdanz said. “By building relationships and working together with students from Mrs. Arifi’s class, my students were forced to go outside themselves and become involved in a community built on social justice – a community with strengths in emotional intelligence, sensitivity and care for one another.”
Students in Mrs. Arifi’s classroom have a variety of ability and communication skills. Often they miss out on basic social skills due to difficulty communicating with peers. The peer helpers were able to develop relationships.
Lenihan peer helper student Taylor Vaughn said working with the special needs class was fun.
“Not only do I think we helped you out but I think you helped us out,” Taylor said to the class. “ I learned a lot of new things and I think your class did too. I am happy to have new friends.”
Students completed research and writing activities such as researching Antarctica and penguins, making a tornado, and writing spooky stories for camping. Students who at first were timid and shy built fun and energetic relationships.
“I loved seeing the kids have fun,” said student peer helper Ariana Hernandez.