By Denise Freese Dec. 18, 2017

This article appeared in the Suburban Life News SD Edition of December 13-19, 2017

The Downers Grove Township is a local government group that does a terrific job promoting important educational opportunities for students through partnerships and social activities.  Recognizing the valuable impact of these opportunities, St. Mary of Gostyn Catholic School has entered into their own partnership with the Township to provide peer-led life skills classes to their sixth and seventh grade students.

“Peer-led life skills classes are a great way to promote positive social and emotional behaviors, and also to help prevent substance abuse,” said Chris Tiritilli, Principal of St. Mary of Gostyn School.  “Our sixth and seventh graders benefit from these monthly classes that are taught by high school students, some of whom attended SMG.”

Interested students at Downers Grove North and South High Schools apply for a position, and then once selected, are trained in a special curriculum to teach to the middle school students.  “The kids receive an excellent education from our teachers every day, but the dynamic where our students get advice from their direct older peers is invaluable,” said Tiritilli.  “The topics covered include healthy relationships, anti-bullying, and preventing substance abuse, all based on a new social and emotional learning curriculum.”

Students are taught skills and strategies for dealing with stress and other middle school challenges, including changes in peer and family relationships and problems that may be occurring at home.  “The older students have been through it already, and they’ve survived the experiences that many middle school students struggle with today,” added Tiritilli.  “The high school student teachers tell the younger students that there’s always hope, and they’re able to offer tools they’ve used and share what they’ve learned.”  The high school students serve as wonderful role models for the younger students.

The program’s feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and Tiritilli plans to continue the program each year.  For more information about peer-led life skills classes at SMG, please contact:

St. Mary of Gostyn School

3-yr. Preschool through Grade 8

440 Prairie Avenue

Phone: (630) 968-6155

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