La Jolla High to explore peer counselors as part of Social Intelligence program

In an effort to increase Social Intelligence among its students, La Jolla High School is considering a monthly e-blast with relevant (albeit uncomfortable) topics for parents and a peer-counseling system for students. The update was given during the Nov. 29 La Jolla Cluster Association (LJCA) meeting at Muirlands Middle School.

The Cluster Association is comprised of parents, teachers and principals from La Jolla’s five public schools: Bird Rock Elementary, La Jolla Elementary, Torrey Pines Elementary, Muirlands Middle and La Jolla High.

The concept of Social Intelligence cluster-wide started last year to give students the ability to understand emotional well-being for themselves and others, at age-appropriate levels. The first Social Intelligence committee met in October.

Teacher Kerry Dill, a member of the La Jolla High School Health & Wellness committee (comprised of students, parents and teachers) said discussions on how to encourage Social Intelligence have taken place.

“We’re going to continue parent outreach with monthly e-blasts, including topic facts and links. One recommendation is to have a student-written component, prepared by an anonymous student explaining that month’s topic from their perspective,” Dill said. “We want to bring up things that might be common knowledge for kids that isn’t necessarily dinnertime conversation. We see it as ‘things your student might not tell you.’ For example, where students get a fake ID.”

At the student level, she said they’re exploring a “peer counseling” program.

“There might be students who have a natural gift for listening,” she explained. “If we could do some training with these students, maybe they could be that first point of contact. It could be a (troubled) student just needs someone to talk to, but if their issue needs to get kicked up to the next level, they can walk with the student listener to the counselor.

“We’re also working with Mental Health First Aid training (a program under Mental Health America of San Diego County), and could teach our students about listening and taking the next steps.”

Lastly, Dill said the school is looking to develop its health fairs. In the past, there was one, day-long health fair with a range of topics. Going forward, the school may dedicate a month to hosting topic-specific mini-health fairs every Friday.

In her update, La Jolla Elementary School principal Donna Tripi said she and Bird Rock Elementary principal Andi Frost were waiting for a principal for Torrey Pines Elementary to be appointed, so the three could work together to create a baseline program to implement in all La Jolla elementary schools.

Tripi added that, along with the School Site Governance Committee memers, they looked at five competencies for social emotional learning — self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills — and background knowledge for what they’re looking for in a program.

In other School Cluster news:

‘Angst’ screening: The District plans to show the documentary “Angst,” Thursday, Jan. 17 in the La Jolla High School auditorium for parents and students (ages 10 and older). Time TBD.

“It looks at anxiety, its effects on kids and teens, offers help and understanding on how to manage and identify anxiety, and opens up conversation,” said LJCA member Jenn Beverage. There will also be a panel discussion.

New principal: After a lengthy search, Torrey Pines Elementary School has chosen Nona Richard as its next principal. Richard will start in February and comes from Hancock Elementary School in Tierrasanta. (The Light will publish an interview with Richard in next week’s issue.)

Community service opportunities: La Jolla High School is creating a working document for community service opportunities. Those with tasks that could use student volunteers can e-mail requests to chutchins@sandi.net or jcavaiola@sandi.net

La Jolla Cluster Association does not meet in December. The next meeting is 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24 at Muirlands Middle School, 1056 Nautilus St. lajollacluster.com

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