- Mapleton Public Schools
GIA Student Group
Isaac Valdez, Skyview’s new boys’ basketball coach and Global Intermediate School’s P.E./health teacher, organized a student group this year as a supportive outlet for several GIA 7th and 8th grade boys.
Mr. Valdez, along with GIA’s director A.J. Staniszewski, discussed creating the student group at the beginning of the school year and by October, the group held their first meeting. Mr. Valdez wanted to form the student group to make a positive difference in students’ lives who are facing challenges in and out of school. The group began with 12 7th and 8th grade boys and grew to 16 over the course of the school year!
Mr. Valdez, who just completed his sixth-year teaching in Mapleton, grew up in the community and knew he would be able to relate to most of the students in his group.
“They need a lot of love, trust, and relationship building. I had to be very vulnerable with them and share experiences that I had growing up. I wanted to let them know that there is a way to be successful and handle situations in a responsible and accountable way,” said Mr. Valdez.
The group began meeting once a week in the fall and by the second semester they were meeting every school day for 45 minutes.
“The group is very structured,” said Mr. Valdez. “Mondays we have a general check-in, Tuesdays are for help with school assignments, Wednesdays we go to GPA where the boys started a buddy program mentoring third graders. On Thursdays we make time to discuss what’s going on outside of school and Fridays the boys participate in a group activity.”
Although the student group has designated meeting times, the students know that they can come to Mr. Valdez at any time, any day of the week.
“Over the course of the school year, my students started coming to me outside of the group when they needed advice or just someone to listen to them.”
The reception of Mr. Valdez’s student group has been nothing short of positive. “It’s been a great thing; I’ve had numerous teachers come to me to tell me that they’ve seen the benefit form the students participating in the group. They’ve seen an improvement with how responsible and empathetic the students have become toward others, and accountable for their schoolwork.”
Mr. Valdez couldn’t be happier with how his student group finished its first school year.
“The growth that I saw in them as individuals and citizens within the community was fantastic. They really grew leaps and bounds.”
Mr. Valdez knows that his students will face other challenges throughout life, but he is very hopeful that they are gaining the skills necessary to resolve issues in a constructive way.
“My message to them was everyone makes mistakes; it doesn’t make you a bad person as long as you learn from those mistakes. My hope for the boys going on to high school is that they’ll continue to reach out if they need anything, continue to pursue their education and be positive members of the community. I would love to see some of them on the basketball court too!”
Amazing job Mr. Valdez and his group of GIA students!