Building Connections


James Pressdee, Fall 2019 Journalism Student

Connections is a class that teaches students social skills and helps them build relationships with other students. Teachers Laurie Rueand Susan Fisher started the class at Blue Valley, which uses peer tutors as an aid, 20 years ago after the positive impact it had on students at their old school.

“I had one student who was having a horrible time socially, so I brought another student in to work with this young lady, and it changer her” Rue said. “She really listened to another teenager.”

However, the class has an effect on all parties; not just those who struggle with social skills.

“What I just love seeing, year after year is how this class changes the peer’s perspective,” Fisher said. “Most of them will say ‘basically I came to help, and I thought this would be fun, but now I’ve learned more from these students.’”

Junior Ishar Venkatesh is one of those students.

“The most important thing I learned is to make new friends and to know what to say at appropriate times and inappropriate times and how people might interpret that,” Venkatesh said.

But according to both teachers, there are also great difficulties that come with teaching the class.

“The biggest challenge for me [is] for those students that are pretty high-functioning, and yet they know they’re not a typical teenager — that’s another reason why we have this class,” Fisher said. “Ultimately, we think it’s important that all kids have a full, balanced life.”