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Peer tutors from across the continent can connect with each other to improve the peer tutoring programs in their schools.

National Peer Helper's Association Journal
Media Review


Editor's Note: The Media Review column provides reviews of current books and other resources (e.g., software, newsletters, etc.) which are of interest to those involved in peer helper programs and training. Reviews are not necessarily conducted nor sanctioned by the National Peer Helper Association (NPHA). Also, products in this section may be, although are not necessarily, endorsed by the NPHA. NPHA is not responsible for any direct or indirect use of these products. If you wish have a product that you would like to have reviewed or if you would like to become a media reviewer for the PFQ, write the editor. This article is reprinted from the Peer Facilitator Quarterly, Volume 18, No. 2, Page 7.

Title: S.P.A.R.K. Peer Tutoring Handbook® (Supportive Peers as Resources for Knowledge) and Training Manual
ISBN: Not available
Type: 3-ring binder which includes 55 pages of text, 12 overheads, reproducible forms, study skills booklets and activity cards.
Company: Empowering Youth, PO Box 117, Clear Lake, WI 54005, Phone: 715-268-4885, email: service@empowering-youth.com,
website: http://www.empowering-youth.com
Cost: $119.95 (with color transparencies)
Comments: Includes reproducible handouts and activity cards.
Reviewer: Rick Hamilton, School Counselor, St. Francis School, Goshen, KY 40026

Using students to help their peers find alternatives to difficult situations is a powerful intervention. Some of the most pervasive peer helper programs focus on facilitating advanced success among students with academic and social concerns. One complaint among educators though is that, if it is to be successful, creating, implementing, managing, and evaluating such successful takes time - more time than is available. The S.P.A.R.K. (Supportive Peers as Resources for Knowledge) Handbook and Training Manual may be a viable answer to this problem for secondary and middle school counselors and other educators.

Developed by Kelly Curtis of Empowering Youth in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, S.P.A.R.K. is a peer helper program curriculum "kit" which intends to foster positive developmental assets in youth by helping them reach their academic potential. The assets were researched and developed over many years by the Search Institute in Minneapolis (http://www.search-institute.org), and are highly regarded as important building blocks for human development. The Institute endeavored to learn more about what is right with youth rather than what is wrong with youth and, as a result, identified 40 critical factors known as developmental assets that help youth to grow up caring, healthy and resilient. According to the organization's website, when drawn together, the assets offer a set of benchmarks for positive child and adolescent development. The assets clearly show important roles that families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods, youth organizations, and others in communities play in shaping young people's lives. For example, assets include creating a caring school climate, providing service to others, developing and maintaining positive peer influence, enhancing academic motivation and engagement in school, completing homework, bonding to the school, and caring for others.

S.P.A.R.K. training focuses on two primary objectives: to help peer helpers learn basic helping skills and skills for becoming an effective tutor/mentor. The content is neatly presented in a three-ring binder and divided into three sections. The first section includes background information about the program, a brief description of the positive developmental assets, and, among other things, resources for finding grant money to fund new peer helper programs. The second section encompasses the actual curriculum used in the four-hour training period for S.P.A.R.K. tutors. The third and final section, an appendix, has all of the needed transparencies and handouts used in the training session. Materials are reproducible and in the order of their presentation during the training sessions. This aspect of the program more than justifies its cost.

In summary, the S.P.A.R.K. Peer Tutoring Handbook and Training Manual® S.P.A.R.K. program is strikingly useful for the middle and secondary school educator or counselor. Most educators are looking for ways to use peer pressure in a positive way and involve students more in their own education. The S.P.A.R.K. program achieves both of these goals. Study skills are taught "hand-in-hand" with the value of positive peer relationships. The very heart of the program is students - not teachers, counselors, or faculty sponsors. With the limited time available to educators these hectic days, the S.P.A.R.K. program is a great investment for any secondary or middle school. For more information visit http://www.empowering-youth.com.

Order it Now! - S.P.A.R.K. Peer Tutoring Handbook and Training Manual® - $119.95

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