Students Find Hope and Connection Through EduGuide

When in-person school was canceled at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, students at Chicago’s Lake View High School discovered connection in an unlikely place: their phones. Even while physically separated from their teachers, counselors, and classmates, Lake View students learned, practiced, and shared important life skills through an online peer mentoring platform that helped them face challenges with hope.

Download the Lake View case study.

Students at the school began using EduGuide once a week, responding to reflective writing prompts on topics like perseverance, core purpose, growth mindset, active listening, and coping with change. They were then challenged to choose one person they could help with the skills they learned that week. Those challenges helped students build and maintain important connections with peers and teachers, even after returning to school in person.

An uplifting alternative to negative messages

Meghan Sovell, then-assistant principal of student supports at Lake View High School, said that participating in EduGuide was an uplifting alternative to the many negatives that students were experiencing, including the pandemic, social unrest, and physical isolation.

“EduGuide reminded them of the beauty of humanity and some of the things that are out there that they weren’t seeing and experiencing while they were on lockdown with a lot of societal grief happening all around them,” she said.

“So many of our students were saying that it really was the highlight of their day,” Sovell added. “We couldn’t get them on a Google Meet classroom to get a grade, but they were doing EduGuide by themselves at home. For some students, it was exactly what they needed.”

One student wrote, “EduGuide helps me get back on track if I’m ever feeling a bit down.”

Students learn to be role models and mentors 

Sovell called the EduGuide platform a space where students could engage in exploring the good in humanity and how they could contribute to that positive side of life. Even now, with students back in the classroom, they continue to build their EduGuide habits and practice positive ways of approaching daily challenges.  

“It’s so easy, especially as a teenager, to be in your head, to think, oh this is the way it is, everyone’s looking at me, everyone’s judging me. With EduGuide, it’s like, oh wait, I can flip it. People are looking at me and I can be a role model and I can be a mentor and I can help these other students,” said Sovell.

Student reports on how they mentor and encourage others during the week using the skills they have learned reflect that positive outlook.

One student wrote,” I helped people understand that even if they cannot do much, being kind is always free.” Another shared, “I helped my teammate gain more confidence in himself after he had messed up.” Another student reported, “Me and my friends had a long group Facetime call and just talked about the things we were struggling with, including school which is the top thing for all of us, and we gave each other words of encouragement.” 

As part of their EduGuide reflections, students write about how they are making a difference by giving advice, helping friends work through a disagreement, listening to a friend’s troubles, and showing younger siblings how to throw a ball or tie their shoes. EduGuide helps develop leadership skills many students didn’t know they had.

Building emotional wellbeing in stressful times

Students’ self-assessments showed EduGuide’s positive effects on their emotional well-being. Students said they were happier, felt safer at school, managed stress better, got over setbacks more quickly, and even improved their relationships with family, friends, and teachers.

Sovell stated that the results of using EduGuide, especially during stressful times in her students’ lives, demonstrates the effectiveness of the program.

“When I think about what my students are choosing to do on the regular, their choices are not always uplifting to them. They’re doom scrolling on Instagram. They’re reading people trash-talking on SnapChat. They are getting so much content that is not necessarily speaking to their soul and filling them up,” she said.

“This is such a quick and easy thing to do. They can complete an activity on this app in 15 minutes. They can hop on it on the weekend if they need that extra dose of happiness, dopamine, and connection. It’s such a minor lift at a school level with such possible impactful gains for the student, that to me it’s a no-brainer.”

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