Preparing Boys for Life

STEPs Day immerses Middle School boys in real-world problem solving

Middle School boys took part in STEPs Day – or “Solving The Earth’s Problems” – this fall. The boys learned about the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets the UN has defined to solve those problems. 

STEPs is part of the Middle School Fords Focus Days immersive learning program, which engages boys in learning outside the classroom through hands-on activities and projects. 

Groups of Middle School boys focused on a wide range of the UN’s SDGs, including Climate Action, Life on Land, Quality Education, Good Health and Well-Being, Responsible Production and Consumption, Zero Hunger, and Industry, Infrastructure, and Innovation. Each group spent time learning about the goal, researching the current work being done, and creating projects to increase awareness of the problem.

Middle School teachers Mario Masso, Emily Lesko, and Kori Brown led the STEPs Day. The group presented the concept of Fords Focus Days as a nontraditional teaching method to develop core character values at the International Boys Schools’ Coalition in June 2019. 

The STEPs program captures the creativity of both our students and our faculty members, and it channels that creativity into small, but impactful projects that benefit our local and global communities.

“The STEPs program captures the creativity of both our students and our faculty members, and it channels that creativity into small, but impactful projects that benefit our local and global communities,” said Brown. “The program really pushes students to reflect on their roles as global citizens and encourages them to take action in their local communities.” 

The activities on STEPs Day differed by group, but all provided a unique look at the SDGs. The Good Health and Well-Being group, for example, tackled issues surrounding mental health. In their research, they found that stigma is a problem that often prevents people from seeking the help they need. To encourage others to speak up and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, the boys created a video detailing the things it is “okay” to do, including asking for help, spending time alone, and practicing kindness and forgiveness toward oneself.

“The boys explored stress, stigma, and the importance of getting in touch with our feelings,” said Tracy Nelson, Middle School Dean of Students and one of the faculty leaders for the Good Health and Well-Being group. “As a group, the boys sought to raise awareness and make uncomfortable topics more comfortable.”