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What is the buddy system and how does it help your child transition into ISB?

Starting fresh at a new school can be an intimidating experience, but choosing a school with a buddy system can help with any transition pains that may arise.

ISB supports two peer mentorship programs to help new students transition with ease into ISB: the Buddy System and Peer Helpers. Each team of students has different goals and assignments, but both offer a helping hand to new students settling into life at ISB. Click here to find out what makes a good international school.

To better understand each program and how they are designed to help welcome new students to ISB, we spoke to High School Counselor Kyle Ottaviano. 


The Buddy System 

ISB's Buddy System is a network of Middle School students trained to help orient new students and share information that will help them settle into Middle School. 

Each new student is paired with a Buddy who will show them around campus and help them get to know the school. This helps the new student learn their way to their classes and familiarizes them with the school. 

By providing our older students with the opportunity to look after younger students, our older students will develop compassion and empathy, while our younger and newer students will gain confidence in their new surroundings. 

“It’s a group that kids want to be a part of," says Mr. Ottaviano. "They see the importance of it and they see it as a leadership opportunity. It’s a group of highly social students so a lot of people look up to them.”

At ISB, we are dedicated to creating a welcoming community where all students and their families feel at home. Click here to learn more about how ISB fosters a sense of community in its student body. 


Choosing a school with a buddy system will help ease the transition for both student and parent. 

“The Buddy System is great for parents because they’ll feel better knowing their children feel secure and it will lessen any resistance with the move moving is a huge stress but the Buddy System can really help.”


Peer Helpers

Peer Helpers carry on similar work to the Buddy System but under a more structured and planned framework.

At ISB, the Peer Helpers Program operates as a club. Students may apply and are selected to become peer helpers. ISB teachers and staff may nominate students to participate in Peer Helpers and often recommend students with strong social and emotional (SEL) and leadership skills. These students are further trained in helpful skills that prepare them for the role of Peer Helper. Mr. Ottaviano explains that staff train Peer Helpers in communication skills, active listening, transition skills, and even social justice via team retreats and after-school workshops so they can help students under their mentorship.

The social justice component is new to the Peer Helpers program but is essential because of the diversity of students at ISB. "We have a mix of cultures in our community, and so having that critical lens of social justice is important," according to Mr. Ottaviano.

Peer Helpers at ISB go a lot further than the Buddy System, but where the Buddy System helps students acclimate to their new environment and get comfortable at ISB, the Peer Helpers program assists their fellow students once they are at a point that they are ready to be embraced by the broader community. 

Peer Helpers not only run new student orientation, but each helper is assigned 1-2 students whom they check up on throughout the school year and make sure they have adjusted into the community. 

“Peer helpers are like a bridge, or a connector. Not only do students come in better informed, but they come in better integrated into the school culture because they’re set up with social support groups.”

Connect with Admissions

At ISB, we understand the value of a strong community, one where new families are welcomed and feel connected with others. Inquire now and start your application to join the ISB family today.

ISB is an extraordinary school, made so by a tradition of educational excellence spanning 40 years. Establishing, nurturing, and growing such an exceptional learning community has been and remains intentional; we work hard to build strong relationships so our learning is at its best.

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Community Transition