According to Quartz, Dave Levin, co-founder of a US charter school network, says that the combination of character and academics is the “double helix” of education.
Teenagers struggle facing society’s realities on their own. Buddies is a TCS program that focuses on creating character in middle schoolers who are naive in social problems.
What is Buddies?
Buddies is a program between Middle school students and High School Students in which HS students intend to transmit their life experiences to attain goals set by the school counselors. Counselors which are the experts on each topic, and the ones who know best how the brain of each student works, created this activity so middle schoolers could develop their character and abilities that they will need for life.
“Buddies is destined to strengthen our students character and develop life abilities between High School and middle school students,” Ana Isabel Garcia, High School Counselor, said.
In buddies, High School students discuss different issues that will be seen in the real world. Middle school students are at some point in their life that parents are giving them more freedom and they start to go out on their own, and buddies is a crucial source so they can learn how to handle different situations they will eventually have to face.
“It is mostly social relationships, study methods, teaching them how to interact and about potential dangers they will come upon life later on, how to manage certain issues with bullying or relationships,” Tomas Ortiz, 11th grade Student and a participant in Buddies, said.
How it started
There is a similar program that began before Buddies in elementary school, called Vida. This program is managed by the Moms that wish to participate in the development of their kids character. When their children passed to Middle School they proposed to the school and the counselors to continue this program. Middle School and High School counselors started to plant ideas on how they could continue this program without the high involvement to mothers had in the Vida program. They came up with Buddies giving the opportunity to both the Middle School students and High School students to participate and learn from each other.
“It is more than a time to share with middle school students and high school students, it is more like a life lesson because you get to teach this kids things that you already experienced,” Ortiz said.
The school looks for all of their students to be successful in life, being able to solve problems and work under pressure are some skills that are needed to succeed. Buddies intends to form students character to help the affront this situations.
According to Quartz, educators and policymakers say that the labor market look for people who can solve problems and stay on task, not for students that can take tests.
Development Through Time
Buddies started as a small program that has always had the same goal, but has started to become much more demanded by High School students. They had to increase the number of homerooms from 6 to 7 to make it more personalized and much easier to control because of the high demand of high school students that want to be part of this program. This program also started being 30 minutes long but as the importance of the developing character has come to be known the time period given increased to 45 minutes. But as well as this good advances there has also been some things that needed change.
“The biggest challenge for me has been being able to control people because at the same time you interact a lot with them but sometimes they get too comfortable and take advantage of your lack of authority,” Ortiz said.
Counselors are aware of how the program runs each year, because they are the ones behind the program and are in charge of the topics presented. Even if there has been some changes in the logistics part of the program, the purpose of the program remains the same.
“Last year we made a revision of thematics, but they are the same, oriented to abilities for life such as problem solution, management of conflict and friendship management,” Garcia said.
After the 8 years that this program has been implemented in the school the program has met the objective, which is to strengthen the relationship between middle school and high school and have spaces that promote the development of social abilities and character in the school.
“I definitely think it has been effective, I was a participant when I was in MS I can definitely say that what they taught me has helped me make decisions,” Alejandro Escobar, 11th grade student, said.