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New programs underway at Middle School

Since Kat Brossmer has come on board as the guidance counselor at St. Croix Central Middle School, she has initiated a number of new programs, as well as enhanced others.

At the January School Board meeting last week, Brossmer was commended by the School Board for all of her hard work at the Middle School. Superintendent Dan Woll said that Brossmer's hiring completes the project at the Middle School, making it a great place for students to learn.

Brossmer, who previously worked for Wellstone International High School in Minneapolis as a testing coordinator, was eager to work with middle schoolers again.

"I worked with middle school kids in the past, and it's nice to be able to start working with them again," Brossmer said.

One of the programs that Brossmer brought on board is just a simple recognition of students as they enter the building.

"We call it High Five Fridays," Brossmer said. "It's cheesy, but we love it."

In the program, Brossmer and other teachers stand at the top of the stairs and welcome students with high-fives and good morning wishes.

"We act all obnoxious and loud, just to fire them up for the day," Brossmer said.

"She's such a visible person throughout the building," Principal Scott Woodington said. "Day in and day out, she has a fabulous personality that the kids really like to talk to."

Another program Brossmer has instituted involves students from the High School who come over and help design friendly playground games the kids can play.

"They come up with games that allow the kids to be competitive, but still allows everyone to play," Brossmer said.

An example of the games is what Brossmer calls a "super soccer game." The game has all the rules of regular soccer, but, instead of a single ball in play, there are several. This allows more students to become involved, and not only the ones with greater athletic abilities.

Mix It Up lunches are a program that Brossmer began to help students get to know others in their classes they might not otherwise talk to.

In the lunches, students are assigned to a different table. Once seated, the tables are given some sort of puzzle or game to complete. The puzzles are meant to provide interaction with students other than the ones in their "comfort zone."

Although Brossmer admits that at first students weren't really happy about being seated away from their friends, the program has been successful.

"Students will come in and call off the names of the students at their tables," Brossmer said. "They're becoming more accepting of it."

Social programs are not the only ones that Brossmer has helped initiate at SCC Middle School.

She also helped create the first academic pep rally at the Middle School. The rally was meant to get students ready for state-sponsored standardized testing. During the pep rally, students participated in cheers, skits and songs directed at making their testing experience better.

The Middle School Volunteer, or MVP program, has also seen some much needed revitalization under Brossmer's direction. The program aims to bring parents together to help out teachers and students at the Middle School on a volunteer basis.

"The program just lacked energy," Brossmer said. "We're trying to recharge it and invigorate it."

A room has been renovated for parent volunteers at the Middle School where they can help teachers by correcting papers, reading to students, etc.

The group, made up of a committee of parents is holding an open house at the Middle School for interested parents Feb. 4 from 6-7 p.m. Call the Middle School at 796-2256 for more details.

For students who need extra help with their homework, a program is underway that matches High School students to the middle schoolers to help tutor the younger kids during study hall.

If the younger students are shy about asking for help, Brossmer says that the high schoolers will walk around the study hall and attempt to initiate help from students who might need an extra boost in grasping a particular subject.

"She has really done an outstanding job working with at-risk kids and getting them motivated and on track," Woodington said.

One of the most important programs that Brossmer has implemented has been the Teen Talk sessions she mediates. In the sessions, small groups of middle schoolers meet to talk about serious subjects that affect their lives.

The groups of between six to eight students discuss things like divorce and family changes, study and organizational skills, stress management and friendships. The sessions help students gain an understanding of difficult times in their lives and help them to become more successful students.

"She has really done a fabulous job," Woodington said.