Student Peer Leadership Can Help Boost School Climate
Elvira Quintero and Brander S. Suero come across as effortlessly top-clique at Central Park East High School here. Composed and direct with adults, flocked to by other students in the halls, maxing out on their allowed Advanced Placement courses, and with applications in hand for college after graduation, they seem natural school leaders.
Yet like the achievements of Central Park East itself—recently honored by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's Expanded Success Initiative for its "college-going culture"— the students' success belies unpromising beginnings and years of struggle . Both seniors are part of the school's College Summit peer-leaders program, which Principal Bennett Lieberman credits with helping administrators and teachers think differently about their students' potential: not test scores, but resilience and connection to other students as the earmarks of future achievement.
"It was a huge culture change," Lieberman says referring to the school's decision to develop a college-going climate. "We've taken a lot of risks. I consider it the...
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