Creating New Opportunities TPS Focuses on Both Learning and Life

BY NIKKI MEYER
Tribune Publisher
Truman Public Schools (TPS) is working hard on creating a positive, supportive learning culture for students to enter each day.
Students in grades 5, 7 and 9 have had or will have the opportunity to attend a one-day retreat, organized by Youth Frontiers.
The upcoming 5th grade retreat will have Kindness as its theme. The three main goals of the event are: understand why and how to make kind choices; enhance empathy skills to understand how words and actions affect others; acquire conflict-resolution skills to safely respond to situations of bullying.
The 7th grade retreat focused on Courage, and had the goals that included: identify personal fears and understand that everyone has them; commit to acting with courage to make your school a better place; deepen relationships with classmates to break down social barriers.
The 9th grade retreat centered around Respect. The event goals were: help students realize they matter, others matter and what they do matters; understand that disrespectful behavior is harmful and engage bystanders to stand up; identify ways to improve the culture of respect in your school and community.
The retreats were held with three other schools participating as well: Madelia, Lake Crystal and Maple River. One of the other goals of the retreat was to get students out of their comfort zones and give them opportunities to interact with students from other local schools, particularly students who look different than the majority of those who roam the halls at TPS.
“It’s our desegregation dollars that pay for these,” said Superintendent Lisa Shellum. “Our kids here, who are primarily white, get to go spend time face-to-face with the Latino kids from Madelia.”
“Our kids were divided up,” said social worker Deb Schneider. “One of the nice things about the retreat is that they weren’t with other kids from the same school. They got to interact with other students that maybe they’ve only ever encountered through sports.”
High school juniors and seniors also got to act as part of the leadership team for the events.
“We are raising the bar and preparing them,” said Shellum. “Kids are starting to buy in.”
Teacher Sarah Garcia stated that she was hearing positive feedback from both students and parents on the direction the school is going.
“They need to believe in themselves,” said board member Allison Klassen. “They do,” agreed Shellum. “There is a lot of low self-image here. We need to be challenging them more, and we’re doing that.”

TPS student Ashley Mendenhall recently put her artistic skills to work on an area of wall outside the auditorium.

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