Alabaster Schools using two systems to promote student support

By ROBYN JAMES | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – When we think about the school’s across Shelby County, we take pride knowing we have a high statewide ranking and a stellar reputation providing education through innovations that create a good learning environment for our students.

What may not be known is what goes on inside and beyond the walls of each classroom across the Alabaster City School system through their commitment to student engagement, advocacy and support; and their use of innovative technology throughout each school year.

Over the last six years, ACS has made available in each of their schools the Anonymous Alerts mobile app system. This app empowers students to help themselves and others by reporting sensitive student issues quickly and anonymously through an anonymous two-way communications system reported to school officials.

Using this highly powerful mobile app, students can send a text description and attach a photo, video or screenshot to report an issue. The response team, which includes Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers, school faculty, School Resource Officers and others, are highly trained to respond expeditiously to the report 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Because students can use the Anonymous Alert app and feel comfortable reporting a potential incident anonymously without the ability of them being identified, our response team has been able to intervene as needed and respond appropriately” said Dorann Tanner, Student Services Coordinator.

ACS implemented this innovative technology in 2014, and over the years, the school system has seen a very positive impact on their students, parents and faculty members through the advocacy, counseling, interventions and support it provides the students in need of help.

ASC has also implemented an evidence-based program ThriveWay, which is a comprehensive online prevention and support program utilizing third through 12th grade students who serve as Peer Helpers.

Peer Helpers are trained to be tutors, mentors, mediators and advocates for their peers and fill a void for those students needing more time and attention to help guide them through their education.

Students must apply to serve in this capacity, and upon being selected as a Peer Helper, they receive extensive training so they have a good skill set to assist their fellow students with emotional, societal, behavioral and educational challenges they face in day-to-day life.

“All students need a comfortable environment for expressing their concerns, fears and worries,” said Brookie Harbison, a ninth grade Peer Helper at Thompson High School. “The ThriveWay Peer Helper program provides a much needed component to reach students. It gives our student body an opportunity to feel comfortable speaking with a peer who has been trained to listen, offer support and assist in getting additional support with multiple resources as needed.”

“ThriveWay teaches students strong leadership skills, compassion, advocacy and empathy that will stay with them for a lifetime and give them a sense of accomplishment knowing they have had a positive impact on the life of their peers and their school community,” Tanner said.

The ACS school’s faculty and students enrolled in these programs are extremely committed to ensuring the students thrive in and out of the classroom and beyond the school year. More information on these programs can be found at Anonymousalerts.com/ and Thriveway.com/peerhelper/