OCDE-led Peer Assistance Leadership honors local programs, advisors for youth engagement

OCDE representatives made surprise visits to recognize five school-based Peer Assistance Leadership programs and three PAL advisors for using creative and innovative practices to increase youth engagement and connectedness. 

Administered by the Orange County Department of Education, PAL programs encourage students to help and support other students. Youth leaders in grades four through 12 build leadership skills as they connect with peers and create positive school environments through mentoring, new-student transition services, school-wide service learning projects, and alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention activities.

PAL logo

Every year, OCDE makes a special effort to acknowledge outstanding PAL programs by arranging surprise visits to their campuses. In addition, PAL Advisor Awards are presented to staff who go above and beyond in their efforts to train, guide and support PAL students to make positive contributions to their schools and communities.  

This year’s honorees are:

2023 Outstanding PAL Program honorees:

  • Davis Magnet School, Newport-Mesa Unified School District
  • Don Juan Avila Middle School, Capistrano Unified School District
  • Ladera Ranch Middle School, Capistrano Unified School District
  • Pioneer Middle School, Tustin Unified School District
  • Warner Middle School, Westminster School District

2023 Outstanding PAL Advisor Award honorees:

  • Amanda Anderson, Don Juan Avila Middle School, Capistrano Unified School District
  • Mark Payne, Pioneer Middle School, Tustin Unified School District
  • Mike Kashima, Niguel Hills Middle School, Capistrano Unified School District

“The OCDE PAL team was impressed by all of the nominations and inspired by the outstanding service that trained PAL peer leaders provided their peers, schools and communities during the past school year,” said OCDE Project Liaison Deirdre Hill.

Effective PAL programs incorporate research-based activities that enhance youth engagement and connectedness to school and community, which are both considered important protective factors for high-risk behaviors.

At the same time, PAL encourages leadership, communication, team building and problem solving. The program can be implemented as a club or class, or it can be incorporated into an existing leadership program. Either way, students receive training in the PAL curriculum and guidance planning campus outreach activities. 

For more information, contact OCDE Project Liaison Deirdre Hill at 714-966-4342, or visit www.ocde.us/pal.