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New Leadership Program Helps Middle School Students Tackle Social Drama

  (September 26, 2012)

Charlotte, NC (PRWEB) September 26, 2012

The thought of reliving middle school may be frightening, particularly to parents with children entering middle school. Cliques. Bullies. Overwhelming peer pressure. Stifling conformity. Agonizing exclusion. Some things have not changed.

But a new curriculum is now available to help teens not just survive middle school, but thrive in middle school. Athena's Path (for girls) and Hero's Pursuit (for boys) is a leadership program for kids in grades 5-8 that includes lessons, games, activities and discussions to help teens learn and practice taking control of their decisions, be the leader of their own lives and feel more included in school.

Research shows that kids face special risks during the middle school years, which can lead to lower grades, reduced school participation, poor self-esteem and risky or self-destructive behaviors. Often, the amount of time a middle schooler spends worrying about transitional time think hallways, lunchroom, bathroom, and bus can be detrimental to academic focus.

Michelle Icard developed the curriculum and is the writer of, a blog for parents of middle school teens. Icard says, "We don't tell children what to do. This curriculum works because teens learn HOW to solve their own problems and make their own decisions,using their unique style and family values. This way, teens take control of their situations and then gain confidence in their ability to handle challenging problems."

Amanda, a mother of two teenage girls, praises Athena's Path for "developing confidence in our youth at a time when egos are typically shattered." She credits the lessons her daughter learned when she was confronted by a "so-called friend" with comments that could have been very upsetting. Recalling how to weigh her options and choose the best response for her, "she chose to walk away from the situation and cut off her friend's self-imposed power completely." According to Amanda, the best part of this story was how her daughter recounted the story: confidently and matter-of-factly, instead of a story that could have "destroyed her for life."

Whitney Kyle is a former AmericaCorps teacher and taught the Athena's Path curriculum in her Idaho school. According to Kyle, This curriculum provided a safe place for the girls to hash out their problems, unburden their consciences, and create strong bonds that will undoubtedly last throughout middle school and beyond."

"I have been amazed by the change in students from the beginning of the year to the end. This has been a great addition to our school life," says Sarah Kilby a Middle School Counselor at Charlotte Latin School in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The curriculum was developed in and has been implemented in North Carolina since 2004. The program has been taught in five states and has impacted more than 7,000 children and 250 teachers. Among the lessons in the program, students learn to solve problems creatively, communicate positively, win and lose with tact, and diagnose healthy vs. unhealthy friendships. The curriculum is available for use by schools, summer camps, church and other youth organizations.

About Michelle in the Middle: Michelle Icard writes, a humorous but helpful blog with tips and information for parents with middle school teens. She is the creator of Athena's Path and Hero's Pursuit, social education curriculum for middle schools teens.

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