Students Teaching Attitudes of Respect (STAR) has been implemented in school districts throughout Northwest Minnesota since 1998. The program is sponsored by Northwest Minnesota Foundation (NMF) in partnership with Peacemaker Resources. STAR is designed to help students build specific skills needed to deal with conflict, such as bullying. The program promotes social and emotional learning for a positive school culture and students learn the importance of community building, which can enhance the schools’ efforts to create a safe and respectful environment.
This fall NMF sponsored five STAR sessions for 13 schools from the region. A group of students from Nevis Public School and an advisor participated in the training sessions at Concordia Language Villages near Bemidji.
The two-day overnight retreat included 145 students, 20 advisors, 22 college students and Youth Advocates. Students returned to their schools and communities equipped to teach other students and their families and communities about important communication and social emotional skills.
“Our philosophy is that when individuals take the time to learn necessary life skills and integrate them into their personal lives we gain more respect in our homes and in our communities,” said NMF Program Officer, Training Dawn Ganje. “So we want our STAR teams to take these basic principles and teach others to shape a better future.”
Following the fall training, the STAR teams go back to their schools and communities to teach the skills to their peers, younger students, their families and even their school boards. Their leadership skills are more fully developed when delivering the lessons learned to others.
“The students who were in the STAR program years ago frequently contact us to let us know they are so appreciative of the skills they learned in the program,” said Peacemaker Resources Executive Director Barb Houg. “As one STAR student stated, ’I liked just getting to come and have fun and learn to stand up to bullies’.”