High school program helps students discover inner self

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — A local high school is making sure students have the opportunity to express themselves and learn who they truly are.

Haywood High School has started a unique program for students, which began last year after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We realized that a lot of our students were experiencing trauma. Some of our students even lost parents or guardians or caretakers that they lived with, and so we knew that we needed to check in with them socially and emotionally,” said Brittany Avent, the principal at Haywood High School.

To do so, Avent says the school decided to assign each student to an advisor. They meet twice a month for a 45 minute class.

In the class, students and teachers discuss of wide variety of topics regarding their inner self.

“Some of the conversations are just centered around self identity, and students figuring out who they are. And then for next semester, based on the identities that they figured out this semester, how does that go into building community across the school,” Avent said.

Avent says when students are assigned to a teacher, they will stay with them all four years, and once those students graduate, teachers rotate back to 9th graders.

She says it takes a lot of planning, so teachers meet a week before each advisor week to plan.

“We’ve also had to do a lot of work around teachers leaning in to being vulnerable with their students, and how to facilitate the conversations. Because our backgrounds are all different. Instead of judging, we need to come to a place of accepting and figuring out how to see across those lines of differences,” Avent said.

Eleventh grade student, Jamarius Reed says he’s thankful the school has implemented the program.

He says it is because for some, this may be their only way to express themselves.

“Children that don’t have somebody at home to talk to or have somebody at home to conversate with, just hangout with, or just express themselves, or get to know people at home. Some people don’t have that. So it helps them out a lot,” Reed said.

Reed says the classes have taught him a lot about himself that he didn’t realize before.

“Slacking off in school. I wasn’t like really getting to know people at school like I should’ve. Wouldn’t open up to other people and my classmates, but now I see that I have did it,” Reed said.

Reed says the class has also given him hope at reaching his dreams in goals post-high school.

Avent say this course is currently in year two of a five year plan, but hopes to extend it even past that.

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