November 26, 2022

A new path to success

When transitioning from elementary school to middle school, students have to adjust to a new learning environment.

Bryce Schafer’s role as Creston Middle School success coordinator helps transition these students while also assisting other students needing extra support.

“Essentially I work with students we’ve identified as maybe needs extra support throughout the day whether that’s behaviorally, academically, even just being here at school as an attendance issue,” Schafer said.

His roster consists of 30 students. In previous years, students would be brought in to work with him during study halls; however, Schafer said behavioral issues have been on the rise over the last several years. He worked with Middle School Principal Lesa Downing to tackle the problem.

“I was in my first meeting with Mrs. Downing and she had suggested alternative ways we can address some of these,” Schafer said. “My success roster has done a pretty good job, but we were trying to quell those behaviors ahead of time before they were even rostered into my program.”

Downing suggested Schafer “push in” to other classes to assist teachers and get a glimpse of what his students are like in action. So far, the arrangement has been beneficial for the students, teachers and Schafer.

“I don’t stay in a classroom for an entire period, I try and jump to at least two if not three if everything’s going well so I can see as many students as possible because even though 30 are on my roster, it’s really 320.” he said. “I would say 100% of the teachers I’ve worked with have really enjoyed it and are happy to have the extra set of eyes and hands in there. With 26, 27, 28 kids in a class, it’s tough to get to everybody and their needs so that has been helpful.”

Schafer said it’s helped him keep up with the curriculum and see how teachers are presenting the material so he can better help his students that are struggling academically. “For awhile there, I’m having to be a math, social studies, language arts and science teacher all at once so it’s nice to see the material and how they teach it in the classroom so I can do the best that I can,” he said.

The progression doesn’t stop there - they have been working on a pride time period for enrichment and intervention.

“Moving forward, I’m hoping to create a class where we can start pulling in kids with a little more intensive behavior so we can kind of fix those things and give them the proper tools to deal with their emotions,” Schafer said. “We’re seeing a lot of those problems because they don’t have any control over the level in which they attack emotional issues.”

Schafer said the class wouldn’t be locked into just students from his roster, but any students struggling behaviorally. They would take the time to role play a better way to handle the situation.

Similarly to pride time, Schafer would like to develop an academic intervention time to allow students more one-on-one attention with their studies.

“Those would be my next two evolutions,” he said. “Making sure I have a carved out time for academic intervention and a pride time for behavioral.”

Schafer said his relationships with the students has allowed him to observe how a student’s environment may be impacting their behavior. “Whether that’s the seating arrangement if they’re near a peer or someone they don’t care for. Part of me gaining a relationship with these kids is understanding who their peer group is and who they don’t get along with,” he said.

While it can’t be facilitated in every classroom every day, Schafer said having an extra adult in the room drops behavioral issues significantly.

“I just enjoy being able to be with kids,” Schafer said. “I like the opportunity to go down the hall and know every one of the kids’ names, and this has given me even more of a chance to do that so it’s been great. I know we’re only not quite a month into it so there’s going to be bumps in the road, but I’m really enjoying it.”

Cheyenne Roche

CHEYENNE ROCHE

Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.