Those extra connections — walking with a student out to the bus, popping in on them at lunch to ask about their weekend — have potential to make a difference in the lives of struggling young students. Staff at Fisher knows this and have fully embraced its 2×2 (two by two) program.
“It is about touching base with kids who have needs beyond academics,” says Megan Herwerden, Fisher dean of students. “We are giving them the extra support they need, extra relationships.”
The program creates a very intentional checking in on students once per week, checking on how they are, asking about their personal interests and being a positive person in their life, someone they can feel safe and trusting with.
And the students don’t even know.
Fisher ran a trial of the program for the second half of last school year and went full force this school year. Every staff member offers two names of students who need support beyond academics for the program. A teacher will submit two names from students in their class, while a paraeducator or specialist can pick two names from any students they work with throughout the school. Then, staff all choose two names from the list of students they don’t normally have in an academic setting, hence the 2×2 name.
“The kids don’t know we do this,” Herwerden says. “They don’t know we put their names up. It is just a little extra.”
The trial run from last year is already paying off this year. Early this school year a young girl was having a rough day and came asking by name for a staff member who was her 2×2 connection last year. “That is the difference we are making without them knowing,” Herwerden says. “It is really about making a difference in a student’s life. We all know all kids get their needs met, but some kids have more needs.”
Herwerden says a group of Fisher staff visited Lynden Middle School during the LMS sixth grade lunch in September as a way to say hi to last year’s Fisher fifth graders. A few of the students came running up to give hugs to the Fisher staff, most of them recognizing 2×2 connections immediately.
“The staff members who were involved in it last year love it and felt that connection and that checking in,” Herwerden says. “We are just finding ways to connect with students.”