October is Bullying Prevention Month. At ÐÓ°ÉÊÓÆµ, one staff member has taken a unique and heartwarming approach to support students in their emotional and social development. Amanda McChesney, a dedicated teacher and a mother of two, has pioneered the “Lunch Bunch” emotional support group, creating a haven for her students and making a remarkable impact on their lives.Ìý
Amanda’s Journey at ÐÓ°ÉÊÓÆµÌý
Amanda McChesney’s journey at ÐÓ°ÉÊÓÆµ has been nothing short of remarkable. She earned her associate degree, began working on her bachelor’s degree, and seized countless learning opportunities along the way. In addition to her academic pursuits, Amanda was named the regional and national co-teacher of the year for the 2021-22 school year, a testament to her dedication to education and her students.Ìý
Inspiration Behind “Lunch Bunch”Ìý
Amanda’s inspiration for starting the “Lunch Bunch” emotional support group came from a deep understanding of the power of relationships in education. She noticed that her students put in more effort when they felt a strong connection with their teacher. This observation led her to think of creative ways to incentivize behavior, participation, and academic development. The first idea that came to mind was to have lunch together. Thus, the first “Lunch Bunch” session was born, even during the challenging times of wearing masks.
Composition and Frequency of the GroupÌý
A typical “Lunch Bunch” session comprises 4-12 students, often from various grade levels. While it initially started as a monthly event, more students began to express interest and work towards earning their spot, leading to 2-3 sessions each month, each lasting around 30 minutes. Amanda’s collaborative spirit also extends to her fellow teachers, many of whom run their own “Lunch Bunch” sessions as incentives and tutoring groups.Ìý
Goals and ObjectivesÌý
The primary goals of the “Lunch Bunch” group are to provide emotional support, foster a sense of community, and encourage academic development. Amanda believes in meeting each student where they are, offering a safe space for them to grow emotionally and academically. Whether a student needs someone to talk to, struggles with self-esteem, or craves positive attention, “Lunch Bunch” is there to provide support.Ìý
Identifying students who would benefit from “Lunch Bunch” is a crucial aspect of Amanda’s initiative. She looks for students who face challenges in class, exhibit a lack of motivation academically, display low self-esteem, or slip through the cracks because they are “good” students who often go unnoticed. Amanda’s keen eye ensures that no student is left behind.
Topics and ThemesÌý
The beauty of “Lunch Bunch” lies in its student-led nature. The topics and themes discussed during these sessions are entirely driven by the students themselves. It’s a time for them to share their challenges, discuss fun weekend plans, and simply be themselves in a judgment-free zone.
Promoting Emotional Well-being and Building CommunityÌý
Amanda employs various strategies to promote emotional well-being, including open-ended questions and sharing her own experiences to make students feel comfortable. This helps build their social and emotional vocabulary and fosters a sense of trust and connection within the group.Ìý
Positive Outcomes and ImpactÌý
The impact of “Lunch Bunch” is palpable. Some students simply need to know that someone cares enough to spend time with them and ask questions. Amanda has seen students who once didn’t want to be at school transform into individuals who understand the value of kindness and connection.Ìý
Involvement of Parents and GuardiansÌý
Parents are kept in the loop through platforms like the Remind app, Parent Weekly newsletter, and ClassDojo. Amanda shares pictures and feedback, which parents appreciate and support wholeheartedly.Ìý
Amanda envisions expanding and improving “Lunch Bunch” further, possibly collaborating with other school programs to offer sibling time or a big brother, big sister initiative. The ultimate goal is to continue making a positive impact on students’ lives!
Supporting “Lunch Bunch” EffortsÌý
Parents and educators can support the “Lunch Bunch” initiative by encouraging open conversations with students, helping them become self-aware, and offering support when needed.
Amanda McChesney’s “Lunch Bunch” initiative is a shining example of how educators can make a lasting difference in the lives of their students. During Bullying Prevention Month and beyond, her approach serves as a reminder that fostering emotional support and building strong relationships can be powerful tools in creating a safe and integrity-focused educational environment.
ÐÓ°ÉÊÓÆµ was built on the foundation that all children can and will succeed if given the chance. We believe in cultivating an environment of deep belonging by prioritizing relationships, understanding the strengths and assets of the communities we serve, and embedding those strengths and assets into our schools through living out our core values.