School Spotlight: Osseo Middle School Group Teaches Lessons in Friendship
Every student at Osseo Middle School has an advisory group.
However, there’s only one advisory group that brings together students in special education classes and students in general education classes.
Teachers Ann Mack and Kassie Scherling run that advisory group.
Mack and Scherling focus on highlighting all that is bright and good.
“We come together to collaborate and work on being inclusive in the school,” Mack said.
Students in the unified advisory work on projects for the entire school. One of those projects was a mural emphasizing kindness.
Meanwhile, this month’s project involves coloring hearts.
“February is random acts of kindness month,” Mack said. “So we’re hoping that with our hearts that are going to be put all over the school that we can spread some love and some kindness.”
Mack teaches AVID classes, which prepare students for advanced education in high school and beyond.
Scherling works in the Skills wing, which serves students who use the special education and support services.
Most of her students spend much of their day in the Skills wing. Scherling said the unified advisory group is the perfect chance for students to be — and feel — included.
A Lasting Impact
The unified advisory group helps students connect with each other.
“This program, kind of, is a way to get them involved and with their peers in the lunch room and in the hallways,” Scherling said. “Kids can say hi to them, make them feel more involved in the whole school.”
Mack said students can tell its a good thing — but the benefits of unity stretch beyond the middle school classroom.
“It is one of those things where it’s a life lesson that they don’t realize they’re learning,” Mack said. “Middle school is that time in life where you don’t necessarily see the payoff until later.”
For the kids, it is a lesson in kindness, inclusivity and most importantly: friendship.
“I just like making friends and getting to know people,” said Addy, one of the students in the advisory.
Kofi and Ethan, two students who take different classes during the day, met through advisory. They worked side-by-side on their hearts, writing kind messages and things they’re thankful for.
“I became friends with a lot more people,” Kofi said. “I really enjoy hanging out with them and talking to them.”
While kids unite in the classroom, the club’s mission extends outside of it.
Scherling said she is seeing the benefits of project when kids interact in the hallways.
“I feel like it increases the empathy that the kids have, and it lowers judgement,” Scherling said. “A lot of our gen-ed kids, they look at some of our kids and think: I bet they can’t talk, read or write, right? And then they come in here and they get the opportunity to think and see — holy cow! I made so many judgements about this student and this person. (They) come to find out that they are just as intelligent, just as nice, just as funny and just as kind as the rest of the students in the building. I hope that’s something they can take with them wherever they go.”
Mack and Scherling’s class is the only current unified advisory class at Osseo Middle. Both say they are working to expand the program for years to come.