Link Crew Welcome
Transitions are tough. At KIS, the Link Crew program structures a smooth move from middle school to high school. Grade ten, eleven, and twelve students mentor grade nine students through their first year in high school. Link leaders meet with grade nine advisory groups to create a community space foundational to the year ahead. When Link Crew advisor Mark McElroy first heard about the program, he was already familiar with other leadership and mentoring programs. But the Link Crew training approach is different. Because community relies on individual vulnerability and trust, Link Crew asks its leaders to be vulnerable first.
Be a little silly. Learn to say when you make a mistake. Listen to others’ ideas. Work together. “Of all the professional development training I’ve been to in the last few years, Link Crew training was top,” Mark says. Trainers modeled how to create tight communities by having Mark and his colleagues work through the same team building and problem solving exercises grade nine students complete in the program. Then advisors like Mark lead their Link Leaders through those same exercises, working out questions and concerns along the way so the whole team is ready to lead grade nine students through the experience too.
The school year begins with a focus on creating a safe space for the grade nine advisory. The group bonds, sets boundaries, develops trust. Questions are welcome as Link Leaders help grade nine students navigate the details of high school, like exam anxiety, course selection, intern or service opportunities. As the year continues, Link Leaders also introduce activities that challenge students to think in new ways – like is cooperation always best, or does competition play a role in success too? Or, what is the difference between equity and equality? These activities nudge the conversation and introspection essential to personal growth.
Link Crew serves the whole KIS community. Link Leaders choose to become Link Leaders because of their own positive Link Crew experience. This year’s leaders want to give back. Erin (grade 11) appreciates that her Link Leaders helped her build friendships when she arrived as a new student in grade nine. Amy (grade 12) has a similar story, remembering her difficult grade eight transition settled by grade nine Link Crew connections. Matthew (grade 11) liked that his mentors encouraged him to try out for basketball. Friendships between upper and lower high school grades illustrate the sense of belonging students can find at KIS. Now Ryan and Julie (both grade 12) are excited to meet their advisory groups and help grade nine students adjust to high school life.
Mark and co-advisors Amanda Mock and TW Williamson expect to learn a lot from their new crew too. Already they are proud of the flexibility Link Leaders have, starting another pandemic school year with grace and kindness. So much of Link Crew is about learning how to interact with others, and by the end of each school year, all celebrate growth.
Phoenix Stories will follow the KIS Link Crew this school year. Join us!