Peer Partner program produces robust smiles at Eisenhower

Peer Partner program produces robust smiles at Eisenhower

The Eisenhower Intermediate School students who participate in the Peer Partner program can determine when they successfully made their impact.

“We see the smiles on their faces,” Emma Kuszmerski, who along with six other 6th Graders, comprise the Peer Partner program at Eisenhower, happily reported.

Their work throughout the school year also produces smiles to the three passionate teachers who coordinate this heart-warming program—--Elizabeth Barboni, Kristin Sarboukh, and Jenna Figliano.

Ms. Barboni explained what Peer Partner is all about at Eisenhower.

“The Peer Partner program has been continuing to be an excellent addition to our students' experience here at Eisenhower,” Ms. Barboni said. “Here, various 6th-grade students who were recommended by their 5th-grade teachers for their patience, kindness, ability to work with others, and interest in working with students with special needs partake in a “Peer Specials” program. In this program, these students work as “Peers” to their “Partners” in the 5th and 6th Grade Language and Learning Disabled Classrooms.”

 She went on to reveal the positive benefits of the program.

“Both peers and partners have been able to experience growth in their social and emotional skills while also participating in various special area activities and curriculums. Our peers have communicated that they are really enjoying and learning from this leadership and mentoring opportunity and we are so proud of them.”


During April, which is Autism Awareness month, the Peer Partner students visit the various classrooms and share presentations.

A major supporter of this program, Dr. Laura Bassett, the Eisenhower Principal, spoke of how much of an effect these seven Peer Partner students produce.

“As part of Autism Awareness month, we have students in our Peer Partner class creating and giving lessons to their classmates to focus on celebrating differences and promoting a culture of acceptance,” Dr Bassett said. “I'm excited about the student-led lessons and other activities planned (Autism Awareness read-aloud library, hallway decorations, teacher participation all month, and more). Liz Barboni along with Kristin Sarboukh and Jenna Figliano are leading the charge on the activities.”


On the morning of Monday, April 15, Emma  Kuszmerski was joined by her Peer Partner teammate, Madeline Scibelli, who delivered a presentation on Autism Awareness to the students in Jaclynn Hurley’s class.

They showed a video and also read a book while answering questions from the eager students.

“We are kids helping kids,’’ Madeline said after their productive session.

While the seven Peer Partner students are busy with their April mission, which is coordinated by Ms. Barboni, they are also engaged in other projects throughout the school year.

The two major undertakings are the Basketball Buddies and the Special Olympics.

“We make a point person for each of our big events because it’s easier for planning purposes, but we all help with all three. Kristin Sarboukh is the point person for Basketball Buddies. I am the point person for Autism Acceptance and Jenna Figliano is the point person for the Special Olympics,” Ms. Barboni reported.

 Dr. Bassett, who selected the seven students concluded.

“It is an honor for a student to be a Peer Partner.”


Here are these seven Peer Partner students who bring “smiles to their faces.”

Claire Kiplia
Emma Kuszmerski
Adwiti Machiraju
Aaryan Nair
Madeline Scibelli
Violet Stapley
Maison Vega