Stagg IR Room connects with students through asking What's Your Story?

In the Stagg High School Intervention Room, there's a bulletin board that asks, What's Your Story? that Tricia McNichols-Brnicky, Tara Syka and Michael Grice use to assist in building relationships with students. This is truly an amazing extension of the message we began the school year with and that we continue to develop during second semester. 

This story of compassionate educators taking time to listen to students' stories brought a tear to my eye. When asked about the bulletin board, Tricia explained:
"The Intervention Room is a place for non-exclusionary discipline measures and academic support; in addition the Stagg IR team also views this room as a place in which we have an opportunity toconnect with students on a more personal level.  Given the structure of the program, the IR team has the opportunity to talk with students to learn about their backgrounds and who they are.

First semester, we used the "What's Your Story?" bulletin board as an opportunity for us to learn about students' interests and to encourage involvement in school activities.  As the picture shared with you shows, we have a list of the offered sports and clubs at Stagg as well as their corresponding sponsors. This was a great way to hear about students' interests, but we wanted to dig deeper and find out what their stories really were.
We are in the process of updating the "What's Your Story?" bulletin board this semester to be a creative outlet for the students to share their stories visually.  They have an opportunity to choose one of 4 pre-cut designed templates - a heart, cloud, circle, or rectangle - then they are invited to write poems, quotes or illustrate images which represents their story. The students are aware we will hang completed templates on the bulletin board, so they can choose to write their name on the front of them template or remain anonymous.  
Below is one example created by one of our students this semester (we have her permission to share). This student seemed a little disconnected and acted as if she wanted to share something but couldn't get it out. As we were explaining our "What's Your Story?" board to her, she grabbed colored pencils and created this:

This student's mother lost her battle with cancer. We spent time discussing different stories of loss and how life can be pretty difficult at times. As this connection was made, more conversations started and processing became something she wanted to do instead of something she felt like she had to do.
Our goal is simple: to make connections. Throughout the semester, we hope to engage in discussions and form connections based on the student created "What's Your Story?" images.
The Stagg IR Team"
There is power in asking What's Your Story? and in listening as students share their more vulnerable moments.  I am incredibly proud of our educators who are making these connections. And, I hope you will be willing to share your What's Your Story? stories, too.
Dr. Jim Gay