DOBSON — Mission Beautiful at Dobson Elementary School is not just a field trip for fifth-grade girls to Surry Community College’s Cosmetology Department. Participants are expressing outwardly what they have spent nine weeks in class learning about themselves. Likewise, the boys’ counterpart to this program, an obstacle course, is more about what they face entering middle school rather than in the gym.
Dobson Elementary Home/School Coordinator Becky Johnson and Media Specialist Stephanie Bode said this is the third year the program has been held at the school. Both credited counselor Candy Crockett with helping establish the program to help elementary students gain confidence and skills to better begin the next chapter of their school lives.
“We try with this program to help each young person be confident with who they are,” said Johnson. “We are getting them to look inside for beauty as well and to be compassionate to each other. Your outside beauty is also what you are, but we’re encouraging them to find a way to see the beautiful in both.”
Johnson and Bode said the words around the mission beautiful logo summarize the goals of the program. The words in the design include “confidence, compassion, beautiful and understanding.”
“This gives our fifth-grade girls some confidence in themselves by knowing who they are before they go to middle school,” said Bode. “It’s amazing to see the transformation among these girls.”
Bode said some of the activities teach the girls skills in getting to know and see others in different ways. She added many girls are surprised to learn someone they have sat near five years has a nickname. Additional skills such as supporting others and being a team also are taught to give the participants some skills to transition into their new school better.
Bode said the girls typically have many questions. She explained one important benefit for them is to talk with the course instructors about friends and friendship. She said they emphasize how important it is to wisely choose friends.
“We’re supporting their ability to discover who they are and remember who they are,” added Bode. “We’re showing them they can make their own choices.” She pointed out Central Middle School’s incoming sixth-graders are often members of at least three local elementary schools.
“It gives them a head start if they find their identity first and know that’s OK. They can be confident in who they are going into this big change,” added Bode.
She also said the school appreciated the efforts of Surry Community College who opened up its cosmetology department so all of the girls could be pampered in one day. She said this has proved time saving and kept the cost down for Mission Beauty. She also credited the success of the project is because it is a cooperative event between school, parents and SCC.
Johnson explained the new hairdos and nails are just one way females who are stressed can feel good because how you look makes a difference. She said while it is true how a person feels depends on the inside, the simple act of pampering oneself gives confidence. Johnson said a total of 46 girls participated in Mission Beauty this year.
“We enjoy this so much,” said Surry Community College instructor Robin Minton. “It gives them a chance to practice their people skills and work with young girls to help improve their self image. Every girl loves to look pretty. It’s about being pretty.” She said more than 45 of her students participated in the event, many coming in when they weren’t scheduled for class to work with the young girls.
Dobson Principal Jan Varney confirmed officials also put together a component of this program geared towards boys after seeing the benefits to the girls. Computer Technician Derwin Woodard and Drug Abuse Resistance Education Officer Eric Latza staged sessions for the boys stressing being respectful, understanding authority and the ability to “let things roll off your back.”
Woodard said they were able to draw on elements of the martial arts to teach the boys discipline, confidence and self-control. The final day obstacle course was a timed event but also served as a real way to stress perseverance and the ability to overcome not only the course but obstacles in everyday life.
“We really stress the importance of thinking before you act,” said Woodard. “There’s a way to bring in the martial arts persona as a way to help them learn to keep their cool. Most importantly, this discipline lets them see the mutual respect between adults. It’s about what you do and what you do when no one’s looking. Persevering through a put down and relating with negative reactions can control many situations. We’ve been greeted more in the halls so we’ve made progress.”
Woodard said more than 30 boys participated in the program.
“It (the course) taught us to be informed and be ourselves,” said participant Yadira Osorio. “They tell us of the different ways you’re beautiful. It helped me. I didn’t know until I talked with the others that I have a big family. We had to work with others to find out what things we didn’t know about each other.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.