Sleepy Eye Public Schools (SEPS) will be implementing the AMAZE Families All Matter (FAM) Book Project for the 2012-13 school year in grades three, four and five.
The goal of the project is to eradicate bullying in school and create a safe and welcoming learning environment for all. This is accomplished by helping children learn about themselves and others and to feel comfortable with their differences. Children learn empathy, problem solving and ways stand up for themselves and others.
Nancy Michael and Lynne Mitchell from the AMAZE program in Minneapolis came to Sleepy Eye Public Schools on Wednesday, Sept. 26, to provide curriculum training for teachers. After school the pair facilitated a parent meeting held in the Elementary Library. Amaze recommends utilizing parent volunteers as readers and program helpers. All parents of students in grades three through five were invited to attend the informational session.
The Families All Matter Book Project is a 10th through 12th grade lesson curriculum that aligns with state standards for reading and social studies. It is a literature-based program using 10 read-aloud stories about family diversity and families, followed by class discussion and individual journaling.
Another aspect of the AMAZE program that will be used in third grade is Persona Dolls. The dolls are used to further teach social skills, conflict resolution and problem solving. The doll has a personality that does not change, but may be added to. As the children listen to and give it advice they understand differences and culture and practice standing up for themselves and others and see that they are not the only ones facing a particular life situation.
“Our school is very fortunate to have the opportunity to be provided the materials and training for this project for free,” said social worker Judy Surprenant.
A SEPS parent, Sarah Lendt, attended a PTSA conference where she learned about the FAM Book Project and a grant opportunity for three Minnesota school districts. While the program has been in existence since 1996, this year it is piloting a pre- and post-test survey tool for students in grades three and five who have never been exposed to the project. With the information gathered, the project hopes to gain new insight about interventions that can positively impact the classroom environment.