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Harlan Elementary School

Jun 28, 2022 by Anita Reid

UNA Lion Buddies

School of Distinction AwardFlorence City Schools

Principal, Dr. Thomas Casteel

Superintendent, Dr. Jimmy Shaw

An academic and social-emotional support practice, the Lion Buddies program at Harlan Elementary School initiated interaction coupled with learning opportunities among elementary students and college volunteers. This partnership with the University of North Alabama (UNA) helped show The Harlan Way of teaching student leadership growth. The college volunteers included athletes, future social workers, and promising teacher candidates. UNA athletes and College of Education majors served as mentors on a weekly basis with over half of the Harlan students. The UNA volunteers collaborated with staff to plan lessons for each week. Teachers from Harlan were supported by the Education majors through small group differentiated instructional support as well as relationship building. These learning experiences helped the Harlan teaching staff address learning gaps through more personalized learning. This created additional opportunities of collaboration and evidenced increased student academic growth. Harlan benefited from the Lion Buddies program serving as a recruiting tool for the school to attract potential employees. UNA students served on campus, fell in love with working with the students, and pursued job opportunities at Harlan. The Lion Buddies program has been an investment in Harlan Elementary students by college students who are community partners through their service and kindness.