In 2021, Pomolita Middle School implemented the Safe School Ambassadors Program (SSA). The program continues this year and is headed by Andrea Larson, who is also the Restorative Justice Classroom teacher. Along with Larson, Magdalena Ruiz, Illiana Mora, and Samuel Griffin are the family group leaders who meet monthly with a group of about 6 students each. Students are nominated by teachers and previous ambassadors to participate in training where they learn the skills that help create a safer, more positive school environment.
According to a current Safe School Ambassador at Pomolita, this program is important because students know more about what’s going on around campus than the teachers do and can help more easily and quickly without kids feeling like they’re in trouble. So far, it has been an effective program, and we’re excited to see it grow.
The purpose of student ambassadors is to show leadership, enhance communication between students and staff, and inspire other students to stand up for each other in a positive manner. Student ambassadors are trained to notice different types of mistreatment on campus and use their skills to carry out a variety of actions. For example, balancing a conversation when someone is putting down another student by giving a “put up,” trying to help someone feel better when their feelings have been hurt, talking a person out of doing something hurtful by helping them think about consequences and choices, or drawing attention away from an act of cruelty by changing the subject.
Assistant principal Magdalena Ruiz was interviewed regarding the program. When asked about how she thought the program would benefit the school, Ruiz responded, “The SSA program benefits our school in different ways, but the most important benefit is that it helps us create student leaders. Leaders that support each other and help classmates make the right decision when facing difficult or uncomfortable situations.“
Ms. Ruiz also commented about her favorite part of the Safe School Ambassadors Program. “My favorite part of this program is seeing the change in the behavior of the SSA students. They go to the training thinking that they are leaving class time to have fun, but when they finish the training, they are more aware of who they are and the positive impact that they can have in our school and community. They became more tolerant and can recognize that even if they come from different backgrounds, they still have a lot in common.”
Larson was also interviewed by the two students. When asked what her vision was for the program, Larson responded, “I see us growing a community of leaders here at Pomolita. Through this collaborative work between students and staff, I see our campus becoming safer and more accepting of each other. In January, we will begin to recruit 6th graders to the program as well. Not only does the Safe School Ambassadors program exist at Pomolita, but has also been implemented at the high school by Jason Gardner and at Eagle Peak by Carissa Adams. With the continued guidance of Amanda Brown, I believe that the Safe School Ambassador program will soon catch on district-wide.”