More than calculus or history: teacher’s supporting students

By: Janie, age 17, Peer Advocate at South Burlington High School, Vermont for Women Helping Battered Women

I’m a Peer Advocate at Women Helping Battered Women, meaning that as a high school student, I work in my school to spread awareness about dating violence and domestic abuse. While this is my first year as a Peer Advocate, something that’s really stood out to me is this undiluted support I and other Peer Advocates have felt from the adults in our school.

I, for one, could not imagine being able to pull off our most recent event, Purple Ribbon Day, without the continuous support from the faculty in our school and the students. Purple Ribbon Day is an event put on by the Peer Advocates in our school, with help from the faculty, where we as a school make thousands of purple awareness ribbons to show support for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  We then give those ribbons to Women Helping Battered Women for them to distribute throughout the year. Our principal tweeted about this event, teachers let students make ribbons during class, and during the day many teachers came to the main table to help out and make a few ribbons. The support and care demonstrated by the teachers that day was incredible. They saw how important and meaningful this event was to the student body, and they reached out and helped us. Our school bonded through this common effort.

Schools play a momentous role in the connection between teenagers and adults. It’s a place for teens to have an adult who’s important to them. For me, it’s a place where I’ve learned more than I can possibly imagine—not just about calculus or history, but about the real world from my teachers. I think every single teacher I know has had a remarkable impact on the person I am today. The most valuable thing an adult in school can do is to reach out and help students do what they’re passionate about, providing support along the way. That’s the best way to enhance a strong relationship between teens and adults. It is crucial that adults create opportunities for youth leadership, and that’s what they did for us on Purple Ribbon Day.