6 Potter Lane
Wharton, NJ 07885
March 24, 2018
To whom it may concern;
I participate in Generation Text Online’s Parent Involvement and Community Engagement Program as a Lunch Bunch mentor. Every Monday, I meet with five seventh-grade boys while they eat their lunch in a designated classroom. I was provided with a detailed framework in the form of a written manual to help guide discussions around a wide range of social-emotional skills.
This group was built around one particular boy who was identified by teachers as struggling with all of his classes. He was asked to invite some friends who might enjoy an opportunity to talk about what’s going on in their lives. Several months later, these boys tell us how they look forward to their Monday lunch time together. We start by sharing our “highs-and-lows” – recent events or circumstances that have been particularly good (highs), and those “not so much” (lows). For pre-adolescent boys, this is a rare opportunity to express hopes and fears, and have others listen. Beyond that, wider areas for emotional development are opened: how to actively listen; how to demonstrate respect (or, in the converse, what actions are seen as disrespectful?); expressing empathy; how to effectively advocate for yourself, especially with adults – to name a few.
This has been a powerful and fulfilling opportunity for me to support a small group of boys – at a vulnerable age between childhood and adulthood – develop emotional and social skills that I expect will positively impact their personal and academic success. My understanding and expectation of the Generation Text Online program is that this practice will extend to teachers in the classroom, as well. I am a board of education member, and I know the high standards and expectations to which we hold our teachers for levels of student achievement. I often fear that in this pursuit of academic performance, we will come to undervalue the social and emotional skills that our kids so dearly need today. Validation for GenText Online’s approach comes from parents and their glowing reports of the differences they see in their kids at home as a result of their participation – less anxiety about school, more communicative, more confident.
I can highly recommend the Generation Text Online program for its empowerment of students, and teaching them the relational skills that will prove critical in their lives, regardless of the future paths