Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Changing School Climate - the Door Greeter Program

From Susan Dillingham, Director of the Initiative for Community and Adolescent Resilience-TN:

Four Humphreys County schools started a Door Greeter Program this fall. Susan Dillingham, from the Initiative for Community and Adolescent Resilience-TN gave presentations at local churches and told the IYD story with balloons and yarn. We explained to the congregation about the importance of young people having at least five anchors in their lives. We told them that it all starts and depends on building a relationship with young people and can begin with something as simple as speaking to the young people that you meet along your way every day. We also told them that we have to be intentional about building relationships with young people, especially once they get in high school.

So we recruited volunteers from these congregations to be in place at the doors of the schools as the students arrive for school in the mornings. The volunteers have vests that say “Welcome” with a huge smiley face on them to identify that they are part of the Youth Development Coalition that we have in Humphreys County called the HEAT Coalition (Humphreys Empowerment Action Team). The volunteers greet each child and tell them that they are glad that they are at school today and that they hope that they have a wonderful day.

You can not imagine the impact that this program has had at all grade levels. It has not only changed the lives of the students, but of the adults as well. The Church of Christ Minister in Waverly volunteers to do this almost every day of the week. He says that it is one of his greatest blessings. Now that word has spread, we have volunteers calling to participate in the program. The most poignant thing that has happened is when a high school Junior came back down the hall one day, hugged our volunteer, and said, “Did you know that this is the first time in my life that anyone has ever said Good Morning to me and told me to have a good day? Thank you so much for being here and doing this.”

This is a great example of an asset-building initiative – here are some of the assets built through the Door Greeter Program: Other adult relationships * Caring school climate * Community values youth * Safety * Adult role models

For more information, visit www.icare-tn.com.

If YOU have a great youth development story to tell, send it to us at ann(at)theassetedge(dot)net.