WMS Students and Staff lead workshop at 2019 MSCA Fall Conference
A group of eighth-grade students including Madeline Hellwig, Andrew Smith, Shrey Vedantham and Elle Winings represented Wydown Middle School (WMS) at the 2019 Missouri School Counselor Association (MSCA) Fall Conference on Nov. 4. They led a workshop called “Student-Led Community Building Circles” with the assistance of Jason Thompson, WMS eighth-grade counselor, and Doug Wehner, WMS eighth-grade assistant principal. “Triple Crown” was the theme of this year’s conference representing the three main topics: academic, career and social/emotional development.
The three Wydown students led a workshop on how school counselors can utilize community building circles to help students to connect with one another and the effectiveness of this practice at WMS. It was the students’ first time presenting this concept to a group of professionals outside of WMS.
“I received great feedback from individuals about how well our students did as circle facilitators and their eagerness to begin using circles at their schools based on the positive experience they had during the workshop. The students did a stellar job engaging with their circle participants and represented Wydown quite well,” said Thompson.
The students had this to say about their experiences:
“I thought the experience was incredibly fun and educational. I learned what it is like to lead a restorative circle on my own, which really improved my leadership skills,” said Hellwig. “Middle school is a place of experimentation, discovering who you are, making mistakes and learning from them. Adults need to understand this and know how to cope with this.”
“I thought it was a great experience because it really helped me learn more about how everybody is different and everyone has a different way of operating,” said Vedantham. “From what I could tell, they were all intrigued and wanted to learn more. Everyone said that they were going to try this at their school.”
“Restorative circles are extremely helpful within school communities! I personally believe that they help a lot of classes at Wydown struggling with communication, and I’m sure the counselors and their schools will benefit greatly from restorative circles,” said Winings. “My fondest memory was definitely being able to bond with Madeline, Shrey and Andrew on the trip. We all would practice together in the car and make jokes. And honestly, the whole experience was just a blast, and doing it with them made it that much more fun.”