PALS Press

May-June 2020

A Year For the Books

This semester changed the way many of us think about PALS. School closures in March meant that many of you and your students were unable to mentor face-to-face, and that plans you had for activities and service projects were put on hold.

From moving No Place For Hate activities online to hosting weekly assembly by video, mentoring by e-mail and creating a PALS YouTube channel, you were all able to move "outside the box" to keep service and mentoring alive at your schools. Thank you all for your flexibility and dedication to your students, your PALS, and the PALS community during these past several months.

Congratulations PALS of the Year!

We weren't able to hold our usual end-of-the-year PALS Picnics, but we were still able to celebrate PALS of the Year! Thanks to all teachers and counselors who passed along the names of outstanding student leaders. I was able to write each PAL of the Year a note and mail it last week, complete with a pinch of confetti.

Here's the list I received, which was passed along to Dr. Cruz and his staff. Congratulations to these students, and the others who were recognized privately. :)

Ann RIchards Yirha Navarrete

Austin High Cesar Arellanez

Barrington ES Kaitlyn Simmons and Edgar Ortuño

Crockett HS Morgan Garrison

Dobie MS Diego Perez and Michael Hirschler

Gorzycki MS Isabel "Isy" Cherukuri

Govalle ES Miranda Dominguez and Samantha Samario-Cruz

Hart ES Kimberly Gonzalez Zaldivar and Michelle Bustos

Joslin ES Jesus Hernandez-Valencia

Kocurek ES Alisha Ross and Rebeca Garrison

LBJ ECHS Juanita Reynoso Villegas

Linder ES Bryan Page-Arredondo

Lively MS Cesar Nelson-Sanchez

Menchaca ES John Wilder

Mills ES Camille Schuppe, Ashlyn Venditelli, and Molly Shipman

Navarro ECHS Emilio Ruiz and Jennifer Benitez

Norman Sims Malia Nevins and Q'Sean Powell

Pickle ES Jeremiah Zirkle and Liliana Torres

Pleasant Hill Malia "Yvonne" Memijes

Travis ECHS Karina Amezcua

Widen ES Giselle Hernandez and Deluka Subocz-Camacho

Williams ES Emelina Villalobos

What Will Next Year Look Like?

Honestly, none of us knows. Anticipating less face-to-face learning time, I'll be getting back to work on the PALS Blend Course. I know that it's currently meant to be a teacher-facing bank of resources that's connected to a scope and sequence. We're looking at trying to build something that's more student-facing that will be helpful for building community and teaching mentoring basics before students can meet in person. Keep your eyes out for updates on that front!

One thing we do know is that priorities for our schools and for many of our principals are shifting. If you are concerned that your campus leaders don't see PALS as a relevant part of your campus culture for next year, please let me know ASAP. We have resources from academic journals to show the usefulness of telementoring, examples of activities for PALS that can lift up your whole campus, and ideas for how to make your program have the greatest impact at your school. We're also happy to check in with your administrators to talk about it. Just say the word!

Upcoming and Uplifting: The SEL Virtual Symposium

You have probably guessed--or seen--that the June 11th SEL Symposium has moved online. Don't forget to register on the HCP! The asynchronous portion of the day's learning will be available through June 14th, so you can take content at your own pace and virtually avoid the sadness of having to miss one session that sounds great in favor of another that you know your students will benefit from.

Another Big Round of Applause for PALS Peeps Moving On...

The following PALS counselors and teachers are making moves:

Angela Gomez-Peña is moving from Baldwin Elementary to Paredes Middle School, where she's hoping to start a PALS program. Congratulations, Angela! Thanks for getting PALS started at Baldwin!

Christi WIlde is moving from Travis ECHS back to her roots in early childhood education. Her passion for teacher training and for early childhood education made her a great PALS teacher, and we know she'll do great things for younger students.


PALS is a cross-age peer mentoring program founded at Crockett High School in Austin, Texas in 1980. PALS support K-12 students at all levels of their education, and are at work at more than 60 campuses across Austin ISD.