September 3 marked the first day of school for students at Golder College Prep. Students returned to lots of changes at the building in Noble Square, with many students returning for the first time since March 2020. Among those changes was the addition of the Lion’s Pride program which students would hear about during the second week of school.
Naketa Jones is no stranger to the Lion’s Pride program, having worked at Baker College Prep when the program was founded in 2017. Jones saw first hand the impact of the program on many of the students she worked with as a school culture specialist and is excited to bring the program Golder in her role as Assistant Dean of Ninth Grade.
“I have been advocating for Lion’s Pride for 2 years. I think it is timing and a shift to more SEL programming that created an opening here at Golder. I’ve also watched the program grow from the beginning and the Bigs and Littles have had enormous success,” said Jones.
The Lion’s Pride program aims to support ninth grade students in their transition from eighth grade to high school through peer mentorship. In addition to addressing the differences between grammar school and high school, programming this year will support students in returning to in-person school after a year and a half of virtual learning.
Students need to be retaught it’s ok to feel, it’s ok to not have it together, and it’s ok to ask for help.
Jones believes the Lion’s Pride program will allow her to address the most pressing needs of students at this time such as “ adjusting to time, travel, and being around peers that have had little interaction with for the past year.” Jones is especially interested in the social-emotional development of ninth grade students and learning soft skills necessary for success in high school and beyond.
When it comes to students’ needs related to mental health and navigating challenges outside of school, Jones believes that students need, “to be retaught it’s ok to feel, it’s ok to not have it together, and it’s ok to ask for help.” Jones plans to execute the program by leveraging her strength of “serving our youth on a daily basis to meet them where they are and see them grow as human beings” and using student data to assess the program and ensure “students have received all that the program has to offer.”
While there is much to consider when starting a new program within a school, Jones has high hopes for the Lion’s Pride program at Golder this year and its ability to positively impact the students and contribute to the overall growth of Golder.
“I am looking forward to our upperclassmen shining and developing skills that will put them at an advantage in their post-secondary choices. I am also excited for our freshmen to gain peer-to-peer acquaintances and the ability to advocate for themselves.”