7 outstanding PAL programs and advisors honored for innovative practices

Five school-level Peer Assistance Leadership programs, or PAL, and two advisors were honored by the Orange County Department of Education for working to create  and enhance youth engagement in campuses and communities.

The PAL program is known for the development of youth leaders who outreach on school campuses through new student transition, conflict management, peer helping, tutoring, and prevention activities. PAL students are committed to creating a safe and supportive school environment.

2019 PAL Program Honorees:

El Modena High School, Orange Unified School District: The PAL class and club at El Modena High School includes over 60 students dedicated to serving their school and community. This group of peer leaders hosts several events throughout the year designed to support all students, including targeted activities serving students with special needs. They work closely with the Associated Student Body to host a two-day summer camp for incoming freshmen and a “Welcome Back Luncheon” for students returning to the school mid-year. This student driven group works collaboratively with other groups on campus to engage their peers in environmental issues, to host a night celebrating El Modena musicians and artists, and to promote mental health awareness. The El Modena PAL group makes their community and school better through their heartfelt actions.

students stand on stagePioneer Middle School, Tustin Unified School District: The Pioneer PAL program strives to create impactful projects that positively benefit the school and community.  The forty students in this PAL class plan, implement, and evaluate their projects with the support of their PAL advisor. In an effort to support building a positive school climate, they host a month-long kindness challenge, serve as “Secret PALs” to show ongoing appreciation for schools staff, and host teacher vs. student activities and sporting events. Every Monday, they walk to Peters Canyon Elementary School to provide tutoring to students in grades 1-3. They also conduct several community service activities including “Cookies for Cops,” caroling for seniors, and donating to several charity drives. To get the word out about their service projects, the PAL students create a monthly newsletter, which they present to the Parent and Teachers Association (PTA) and at monthly school board meetings. Pioneer PALs believe it is better to give than to receive and will do whatever it takes to help their school and community.

students pose on stageTalbert Middle School, Fountain Valley School District: The PAL students at Talbert Middle School work with their student body to promote a positive climate by being willing to put themselves out there for anyone who needs them. Talbert PAL peer leaders provide one-on-one mentoring and tutors on campus. They provide teacher support and host monthly “Lunch on the Lawn” engagement activities for 6th grade students. To promote positive behavior, the PAL program conducts ongoing kindness activities including a school wide poem contest.  This PAL group supports healthy lifestyles by educating their peers about the dangers of drugs and alcohol use and encouraging them to make healthy choices. Talbert PAL peer leaders are known for their kindness and they love giving back to their school community.

students stand on stageLaurel Elementary Magnet School of Innovation and Career Exploration, Brea Olinda Unified School District: The PAL peer leaders at Laurel Elementary Magnet School have been a positive force on their campus this year. Laurel Magnet PAL students work in teams that focus on activities that engage their peers and help create a positive school climate.  The PAL teams lead recess games, read to kindergarten classes, assist the principal, and support classes on campus. Laurel Magnet PAL students are trained to foster personal relationships between peers and the rest of the campus. They are an integral part of implementing their schools’ Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program. The Laurel Magnet PAL program takes pride in what they offer their campus community.

students stand on stageLas Flores Elementary School, Capistrano Unified School District: The PAL group at Las Flores Elementary School is comprised of 31 students. These active peer leaders plan activities to engage their peers and promote positive behavior on their campus. PAL students organize games and activities at recess, serve as new student mentors, are morning ushers for lower grade students, and help coordinate Kindness Week. The PAL students foster a sense of unity by coordinating school wide service projects, such as blankets for an animal shelter, socks for the homeless, and donation drives. Las Flores PAL students strive to encourage kindness, sensitivity, and selflessness.

2019 PAL Advisor Honorees:

educator receives awardDawn Floyd, Gilbert Elementary School, Garden Grove Unified School District: Floyd inspires and directs her students to be leaders, learn about the value of community service, and give them the confidence to grow and teach others. She works tirelessly with students, staff, and parents to ensure that each project is meaningful and student centered.  She is devoted to the success and growth of the PAL program at Gilbert Elementary School and is constantly reflecting on how to improve the program.

educator receives awardDebbie Mulligan, Tustin Memorial Academy, Tustin Unified School District: Mulligan leads a highly motivated group of 40 active PAL members. She excels at making sure each PAL student feels involved and empowered to make an impact through PAL at their school and within their community. Debbie is dedicated to her students to give them the desire to chase their passions. She listens to their ideas, and looks for ways they can have an impact through peer support, service learning, and conflict resolution. Mulligan gives students a reason to believe in themselves and a purpose in supporting those around them.

For more information, contact Elke Petras, Coordinator, Youth Development Programs, at epetras@ocde.us or visit www.ocde.us/pal.