Westport Middle School launches advisor program

By Alec Ciminello, principal Westport Middle School is embarking on a new and exciting initiative. In our never ending quest for students to be as successful as possible, the school is beginning an advisor program.  Success in school is not just about reading, writing, social studies, science and mathematics. It is also about knowing how to learn and how to get along with others. We will be teaching these critical skills by breaking the entire school into smaller advisor groups.  While in these small groups, teachers will be using the Second Step program to teach these valuable skills. Our goal is to have every child feel connected to a person at the middle school.  This contact person will be in the role of someone that they can look up to, be guided by, and learn from in a small setting outside the academic arena. Teachers will be instructing students in four general areas: Skills for learning, empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. Skills for learning will assist students in gaining important abilities to help them learn. This will include how to focus their attention, listen carefully, and be assertive when asking for help with schoolwork. Empathy helps students learn to indentify and understand their own and others’ feelings. Students will also learn how to take another’s perspective and how to show compassion. Students will gain emotional management skills for calming down when experiencing strong feelings such as anxiety or anger.  During problem solving, students will learn a process for solving problems with others in a positive way. During this program, students will be provided with numerous learning opportunities. As with any successful program, there will be a home component as well that will assist parents in understanding and guiding the instruction that is happening at school.  Each parent will be expected to help their child with these at home discussions.


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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.