Safe School Ambassadors Program

Safe School Ambassadors Program Helps Build Culture of Safety
Posted on 05/14/2019
Students on Playground

To promote a positive school climate, the School District of Palm Beach County trains students in the Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) program. The program was established in the District in 2000 to develop motivated, trained, and supported student leaders who de-escalate conflict and reduce exclusion, cruel humor, bullying, and other forms of mistreatment on their campuses. 

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act prompted a new emphasis on school safety and mental health. To foster both, the Department of Safe Schools offers SSA training in elementary, middle, and high schools. Students in grades 4-12 are eligible to become SSAs and they are recruited, trained, and supported by District Safe Schools trainers, in collaboration with school staff.

Initial training sessions for the program usually occur on the school’s campus, with 30 – 40 minute follow-up support meetings taking place every two to three weeks during non-academic times. Most schools with the program maintain a group of 25 – 40 SSAs.

Students who become SSAs exhibit strong social and emotional competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. 

SSAs are able to tune in to social and interpersonal indicators of stress and they are willing to help when they recognize that stress exists. The SSAs are then equipped with the tools to intervene and either resolve the situation, or refer the situation to an adult ally if necessary.

According to Rick Lewis, a Specialist in the Department of Safe Schools, the program is beneficial for a number of reasons. The SSAs do not “police” the campus social environment nor do they act as “spies.”

Their role is to serve as caring, “knowledgeable allies” to their fellow students. This role allows SSAs to function as trusted liaisons between students and administrators to help create a positive school environment.

The SSAs are very active, with members trained to maintain action logs detailing the kinds of interactions they have with other students at their school within a given period. “Snapshot Week” data is collected at multiple times throughout the school year, thereby allowing for consistent observation of the social climate on a campus. Based on extrapolation of the action logs from “Snapshot Weeks”, it can be estimated that a group of 25 SSAs will conduct approximately 1,800 interventions per school year.

For more information about the Safe Schools Ambassadors Program, contact Kim Mazauskas, a Resource Teacher in the Department of Safe Schools at 561-982-0922.

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