For many students in the Imago Dei School, making friends and understanding social dynamics can be a challenge. This is a difficulty often shared by individuals with disabilities. One way that Trinity and the Imago Dei School seek to support students who experience this challenge is through the well developed Peer Mentor program which serves students in grades K-12. At every level, Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric school, there are opportunities for general education students to come alongside their peers in the Imago Dei School, model appropriate social interactions and develop genuine friendships.
The newly established Logic School Peer Mentor program is called "Knights at the Table". Led by special education teacher, Jessica Escorza, this program is getting off to a great start! On the first Wednesday of every month the Peer Mentors are invited to a “working lunch” with the special education teachers. The intention behind this fun, informative meeting is to help Peer Mentors learn more about the unique challenges that students with disabilities face and to help the Peer Mentors develop strategies to support their friends with disabilities. Teachers and Peer Mentors take turns role playing social situations and modeling scenarios they may encounter on campus. They talk through different scenarios and act out how they might navigate common situations.
In addition to the working lunch on the first Wednesday of the month, Knights at the Table meets on the remaining Wednesdays at lunch so that the skills they are learning can be practiced live. Peer Mentors enjoy their lunch with their friends from the Imago Dei School and they are developing friendships.
With great enthusiasm for the success of all students, Miss Escorza said, "It has been a really nice time getting to know these Logic School Peer Mentors! The questions they have about special education and Imago Dei have been great topics to discuss. We know that in order for friendships to grow, our Peer Mentors need to develop the necessary tools in their toolbox to know how to successfully support our students."
To be chosen for the "Knights at the Table" position, students must submit an application and turn in a faculty/staff recommendation.
Grammar School calls their Peer Mentor program Noble Knights. It is for sixth graders only and it also requires an application so that students are carefully selected to take part in the program. In Rhetoric School, they are called Peer Mentors and those selected students take Peer Mentor as their elective class. They are trained and guided by special education faculty, then partnered with students from the Imago Dei School to help them be successful in their general education electives. The Peer Mentors also assist their friends from Imago Dei to navigate the sometimes confusing unstructured times on and off campus such as brunch, lunch, and school events.
The friendships and partnerships that develop as a result of the Peer Mentor program at all levels is one of the things that makes Trinity special and unique, as students from Imago Dei are embraced and included so that they can reach their full potential socially, as well as academically and in all areas of life.