4 Things You Should Know About Our Programs + Strategic Learning Team

Published on January 23rd, 2020

Peer Health Exchange’s curriculum is designed to give young people the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions. Through our skill-building workshops, we aim to reduce unplanned pregnancy and substance abuse and increase help-seeking behavior. Our program aligns with national health and education standards, is culturally relevant, age-appropriate, and medically accurate. Keep reading to learn more about the department behind our powerful curriculum—the Programs and Strategic Learning (PSL) team .

  1. PSL designs and maintains the Peer Health Exchange program to meet the needs of communities we serve across the country. The collaborative nine-member team is organized by two main areas of expertise—Program Evaluation and Systems and Design and Development. Teammates work closely to ensure what we learn from evaluations are integrated with best practices from the field to create a robust curriculum and strong training programs for our various models. 
  2. Without our PSL team, there would be no Peer Health Exchange program! Our curriculum is how college health educators facilitate important conversations about mental health, sexual health, and substance misuse in ninth-grade classrooms across the country. PSL also supports and equips program staff with ongoing professional development, so that they, in turn, can prepare volunteers for success in the classroom. And without evaluation, we wouldn’t know the impact we’re having or how best to make our program stronger and more efficient. Writing our curriculum is no easy task. Imagine evaluating 18,000 students, synthesizing all of that information, and making sure the program we have is what they want and need. 
  3. Members of our PSL team make up a diverse department from various walks of life. They are psychologists, educators, and researchers at various stages in their careers—two of whom are doctors (Dr. Angela Glymph and Dr. Eko Canillas-Myles) and a third of whom (Aasli) is working toward hers. Their interests range the gamut: maternal health, child health, psychology, public health, health communications, learning, and health policies. Some of PSL team members are relatively early in their careers while others have well over 10 years of experience in their field. 
  4. A diverse PSL team= stronger impact. Research shows students who attend diverse schools learn more and are more confident. For equitable education to thrive, these benefits must exist beyond the makeup of our students or educators. It should be integrated into all aspects of learning, including the people designing, developing and evaluating the learning experience. Learning is optimized when its content and its delivery is relevant and responsive to the unique experiences of its learners. Having a diverse PSL team enables us to look at the curriculum from unique outlooks, widen our perspectives and increase our capacity to better design learning and measure impact. For example, the illustrations in student-facing materials were enhanced last year to reflect and represent more of the diverse young people we serve. This change is also accompanied by activities where students are invited to discuss “who they are” and “how they feel about who they are” when taking action for their health. This change helps us to better understand young people’s experiences in accessing health resources (for design and evaluation) and may increase the relevance and unique application by young people when acting for their health (agency).

  • BONUS! Learn who’s who on the team with these fun facts:
    • Dr. Eko Canillas-Myles, Director of Program Design and Development: I was a competitive gymnast up until middle school
    • Savannah Sharp, Associate of Program Design and Development: I swam with great white sharks in the South Atlantic Ocean (off the coast of Cape Town).
    • Dr. Angela Glymph, Vice President: I have traveled as a solo passenger on a commercial plane.
    • Lexis Manzara, Manager of Program Evaluation and Systems: My favorite thing is designing health plans for other people. I love vitamins & supplements!
    • Aasli Nur, Senior Manager of Program Evaluation and Systems: After college, I moved to Dubai, where I also worked in education.
    • Lisa Walker, Assistant Vice President: I volunteer at a local cooking school and spend a lot of my free time in the kitchen; I particularly love baking for friends, family, and my wonderful colleagues at 100 Webster!
    • Kavita Shah, Manager of Program Design and Development: I always carry a racquetball with me so I can play a spontaneous game of catch wherever I go.
    • Samantha O’Neill, Intern, Research and Evaluation: I love collecting mystery box toys to decorate my desk! Specifically the Smiski series from Japan. 
    • Julianne Rocco, Graduate Student Intern: My college nickname was “Fish Lady” since students would leave their unwanted pet fish outside of my dorm room, and I successfully managed to keep all of them alive for years in discarded cheeseball containers
Pictured here: (L-R first row) Dr. Eko Canillas-Myles, Savannah Sharp, Dr. Angela Glymph. (L-R second row) Lexis Manzara, Aasli Nur, Lisa Walker, Kavita Shah.

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