Individual Presentation

First Presenter's Institution

Rockdale Virtual Campus

Second Presenter's Institution

Memorial Middle School

Third Presenter's Institution

Salem High School

Fourth Presenter's Institution

Heritage High School

Fifth Presenter's Institution



Ballroom D

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills


Researchers have found that peers are their own best resource and can be used to augment the insufficient adult resources on school campuses. In fact, there are too few adults to respond to the many needs of youth. Trained peer leaders can be used to deal with many problems that affect students' academic, social, and emotional needs. Also, young people are natural helpers with a desire to feel they are contributing members of the school community. Peer programs provide a trusting and supportive forum for youth to feel worth and value. Finally, trained peer leaders who augment school support services are cost effective. An effective peer conflict mediation program reduces school suspensions when students learn how to peacefully resolve conflicts rather than suspensions which cause schools to lose state revenue.

California Association of Peer Programs: Comprehensive Evaluation of Peer Programs, 2001.

Brief Program Description

Welcome to the "Age of Indifference". Unfortunately, our culture is so busy looking at our own problems and issues that we have systematically stopped caring about others. However, if our culture would embrace a system based on collaboration and compassion, we may lessen many social and psychological issues that impact youth today.


The American middle and high school have been the primary settings for establishing peer relationships in the 20th and 21st century. Early in the 1940s, Mechem found that the happiness of young people greatly depended on the establishment of peer relationships and this information has been well documented by researchers. At present, teachers and school counselors have been recognized as the primary role model for students. Regrettably, peer role models have been largely overlooked (Hamberg & Varenhorst, 1972). However, researchers have found that positive peers have the greatest impact on at-risk youth- and do it the most cost effectively. Unfortunately, educators alone cannot help teens cope with the problems they face in our society. Researchers have found that peer programs can be quite effective as a prevention model (Dryfoos, 1990). Varenhorst found that sharing authority and leadership with teens as tutors, mentors, leaders, and mediators can have a positive impact on peers. An effective method of creating a successful peer leadership model includes establishing a consistent and broad based program from middle to high school under effective supervision. This presentation will provide information for participants to learn more about how to establish a peer program, the effectiveness of peer programs on at-risk youth, and how to train potential peer leaders. In addition, the presenters will emphasize the importance of using standards in peer helping, peer helping ethics, and utilizing the guidance of an expert to enhance the effectiveness of a peer helping program. The presentation will provide many resources as well as training information.

Dryfoos, Joy G. Adolescents at Risk: Prevalence and Prevention. Oxford UP, 1991.

Hamburg, Beatrix A., and Barbara B. Varenhorst. "Peer counseling in the secondary schools: A community mental health project for youth." American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, vol. 42, no. 4, 1972, pp. 566-581.


Peer helping has been well researched as an effective method for impacting peers in middle and high school. Black, Foster-Harrison, Tindall, Johnson, Varenhorst, & Mascato conducted a comprehensive study on the value of peer helping programs. These researchers discovered that establishing a peer program promotes developmental assets in youth, peer programs show effectiveness in reducing at-risk behavior in youth when met with weekly, peer programs lead to reductions in alcohol use and tobacco use more than teacher led programs, peer mediation programs showed a decline in fighting, structured peer education programs can foster desirable learning and behavioral change, and peer helping has shown effectiveness is developing a more effective community. Additional resources that show the impact of peer helping can be found from the following researchers and spans a time period of 40 years.

Black, D., et al. "Peer Helping/Involvement: An Efficacious Way to Meet the Challenge of Reducing Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use Among Youth." Journal of School Health, vol. 68, 1998, pp. 87-93.

Fors, Stuart W., and Sara Jarvis. "Evaluation of a Peer-Led Drug Abuse Risk Reduction Project for Runaway/Homeless Youths." Journal of Drug Education, vol. 25, no. 4, 1995, pp. 321-333.

Hedin, D. "Students as Teachers: A Tool for Improving School Climate and Productivity." Social Policy, 1987, pp. 42-47.

Perry, C. "Prevention of Alcohol Use and Abuse in Adolescence: Teacher versus Peer-Led Intervention." Crisis, vol. 10, 1989, pp. 52-61.

Powell, Kenneth E., et al. "A Review of Selected School-Based Conflict Resolution and Peer Mediation Projects." Journal of School Health, vol. 65, no. 10, 1995, pp. 426-431.

Simmons, Ron. "Peer Counseling: An In-Depth Look at Training Peer Helpers and Peer Power: Becoming an Effective Peer Helper (workbook) H. Dean Gray and Judy Tindall Muncie, Ind.: Accelerated Development, 1978." Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 30, no. 5, 1979, pp. 49-49.

Tindall, Judy, and David Black. "Research That Supports Certified Peer Helper Delivered Programs for Maximum Impact on At Risk Children." Perspectives in Peer Programs, vol. 21, no. 2, 2008, pp. 34-51. Accessed 9 Aug. 2017.

Tindall, J., et al. The Peer Facilitation Quarterly, 2002, pp. 14-21. Accessed 9 Aug. 2017.

Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation

National Association of Peer Program Professionals

National Dropout Prevention Center

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Cynthia Morton is a licensed professional counselor and mediator in the state of Georgia. A former school counselor, Dr. Morton currently holds the position of Virtual Learning Support Specialist with her county’s virtual school. In addition to her role as VLSS, she coordinates a county-wide peer leadership and peer mediation program. Dr. Morton holds an Educational Specialist Degree in Professional School Counseling and Supervision and a Doctorate in Teacher Leadership.

Monica Seeley has 16 years of experience in education with a background in Special Education and working with at-risk students in the alternative setting. Currently, she is the Graduation Specialist, and the Peer facilitation coordinator at Heritage High School School in Rockdale County. She has her certification in Special Education and School Counseling.

Antoinette L. Dunstan serves as an educator, mentor, business owner, community leader and motivational speaker, with 10+ years of multi-faceted experience in youth programming, leadership development, marketing, strategic planning, etiquette training and facilitation. As an educator, Ms. Dunstan serves as an Education Specialist/Mentor Coordinator at the middle school level within the world-class Rockdale County Public School System. Under her mentor leadership, Memorial Middle School’s multi-tiered leadership program has grown to become the most participated mentorship program within the district – serving 130 students for 5+ consecutive years. Ms. Dunstan is very focused on building community partnerships and increasing parent involvement. In 2016, she spearheaded the largest community youth forum within the district. Currently, she sits on the planning committees for the district-wide Peer Facilitation Program and the RCPS Parent Academy (Teen Division).

Candice Anderson has served as an educator for the last five years. For the past three years, she has had the opportunity to fulfill her passion as a Professional School Counselor. Ms. Anderson has been working with the Salem High School Peer Leader Program for seven years and for the past two years has served as the Peer Facilitation Coordinator at Salem High School. She has a Masters in School Counseling and an Educational Specialist Degree in Professional School Counseling and Supervision.

Keyword Descriptors

Peer Leaders, At-risk students, Tutoring, Mentoring, Mediation, Leadership, Peer Education, Peer Advocacy, Peer Helper, Peer Listening

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-5-2018 1:15 PM

End Date

3-5-2018 2:30 PM

NAPPP process_evaluation_questionnaire.docx (48 kB)
NAPPP process evaluation

NAPPPFlyerAt-RiskConference.docx (519 kB)
NAPPP Flyer At-Risk Conference

napppnationalpeerhelperweek_2018.doc (157 kB)
NAPPP National Peer Helper Week

napppstandardschecklistethicsmay2017.doc (74 kB)
NAPPP Standards Checklist

National Peer Helper Association Peer Helper Ethics.docx (14 kB)
National Peer Helper Association Peer Helper Ethics

RCPS Peer Programs.pdf (624 kB)
RCPS Peer Programs

Training Goals and Evaluation.docx (14 kB)
Training Goals and Evaluation

Files over 10MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "Save as..."

Mar 5th, 1:15 PM Mar 5th, 2:30 PM

Why Peer Intervention is Viable

Ballroom D

Welcome to the "Age of Indifference". Unfortunately, our culture is so busy looking at our own problems and issues that we have systematically stopped caring about others. However, if our culture would embrace a system based on collaboration and compassion, we may lessen many social and psychological issues that impact youth today.