Many students and teachers have trouble transitioning into a new school. In fact, for students, it is especially hard to integrate into high school. Since the “cliques” have already been established in middle school for incoming students and staff, it is usually difficult for the newcomers to join the already existing friend groups. To address this problem, the high school counselors and Mr. Dominguez have found a way to make the transition easier for new students by implementing the buddy system. Specifically, the counselors ask eighth grade teachers to pick students in their grade who are fit for becoming a buddy to the incoming students while Mr. Dominguez searches for returning teachers who are available to guide the new teachers they have similar teaching departments with.
“We look for students who have leadership, are considerate of others, and are responsible, said Barbara Conant, high school counselor. “We keep the TIGER values in mind and search for students who are good role models and can make the new students comfortable.”
In the buddy system, one or two current SIS students are assigned to an incoming student who they have to guide around the school campus. Before meeting other students at SIS, the counselors have the new students fill out a survey regarding his or her interests and the questions he or she has about the school. After receiving the information about new students, counselors tell the students currently in the buddy program information about the new students about a week before the end of school; that way, the SIS students and the new student can communicate and even meet up during the summer to get to know one another better. In addition, the returning students usually use social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat for easier communication.
“I remember getting a message from my buddy and though I was surprised at first, we got to know each other well, and I felt more comfortable and ensured that there was someone at SIS whom I already knew before going to school. We are still friends until this day,” said Uunseo Park (10), a new student at SIS this year.
In the case of teachers, Mr. Dominguez sends a list of starter materials that the returning teachers could use to welcome new teachers. The teachers first trade short introductory videos of each other. Then, the new teachers would normally ask about the banking, cell phone, and housing. The teachers mostly Skype each other to get to know each other better.
“It always makes it easier to transition into a new school if you know someone there,” said Mr. Dominguez, the director of the teacher buddy system.
In the last step of the buddy system, the new students and the SIS students in the buddy program meet at school and tour around school. Not only do the new students get an introduction to the facilities at SIS, but they also get to know the other SIS students as well as their buddies.
“The buddy system is an excellent way to introduce the school and the overall atmosphere to the new students, said Yoona Lee (11), a new student at SIS this year. “This year, the program made it much easier for me and the other new students to approach others, since the other SIS students helped me get used to the people here.
Thanks to this system, many new students and teachers have integrated easily into SIS. The buddy system allows SIS be more welcomed and comfortable, as the barrier between the school and the new student and teacher gets easily broken down.