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DMS initiates program to enhance students’ emotional, social health

Demopolis Middle School’s advisory period promotes students’ emotional and social well-being and provides each student with an adult advocate at the school.

Advisory stems from the weekly meetings that students have had with teachers in the past and has now developed into a daily part of the curriculum. It is also part of a larger requirement for the school to maintain AdvanceED Performance Accreditation.

Principal Brandon Kiser said that addressing the social and emotional needs of the students makes it easier for learning to take place.

“When they’ve got all these things going on at home, until we help address them, it’s going to be hard for them to learn here,” Kiser said.

Through advisory, students learn soft skills such as communication, social and test-taking skills as well as manners and etiquette.

“I think this is one of the most important times for students to be able to learn how to interact with others,” Kiser said.

The class also includes periods of mindfulness, news broadcasts for current events, and a weekly one-on-one meeting with the teacher to discuss any needs. Topical books, online resources and videos inform the period’s curriculum.

“They don’t get a grade in advisory. It’s not something where they have to worry about points being taken off. It’s just something for them to build a relationship with somebody that can help them with things they’re going through,” Kiser said.

The period is available to all grades at DMS and is taught by most of the school’s teachers. It’s also designed in a way so that the advisory teachers follow the students as they age, meaning they continue to teach and build relationships with the students for three years.

Kiser and his team at DMS also strive to make sure students are not taught by their advisory teachers in an academic class, though some overlap is inevitable.

The advisory period is also a precursor for the school’s upcoming implementation of the Leader in Me process, which is currently in use at Westside and U.S. Jones elementary schools, next school year.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, January 30 issue of the Demopolis Times.)

For more information about Leader in Me, visit https://www.leaderinme.org/