TOPS Class Provides a Way For Students to Connect Through Peer Support

TOPS class has provided a unique way for students of different walks of life to connect through peer support.


Isasbella Rankin

Two students in TOPS class.

McKenzie Sullivan

A way for students to connect, TOPS is a class to bring students with and without disabilities together. The class gives students an opportunity to learn and celebrate the differences in their peers and grow in ways that benefit them in real-world situations. 

“This class gives [the students] a picture of what the world looks like outside of school,” Mrs. Gina Campbell, a special education teacher at GEHS, said. “In this setting, our differences might be more visible, and easier for us to explain to each other, but out in the real world once we get out of high school, the world is opened up a lot more, their differences may not be as easily seen, identified, or explained.”

Being able to learn about differences now can help students identify these things in real-world experiences after high school. This will benefit them in having a better understanding of everyone and make them able to see similarities rather than differences, providing a finer experience for all.

“For the students that are our mentors, it’s an opportunity for them to get to know the students with disabilities in more of a personal way,” Campbell said. “Teenagers are teenagers and everybody in this building has similar likes, dislikes, characteristics and things that are difficult to be going through.” 

Not only is TOPS a great experience, but it gives students a chance to meet new people and have friends they may not have in other situations.

“I think all high schoolers should take this class,” junior Emma Falkner said. “It’s such a fun class and you get to meet new people and make new friends. In TOPS, we work with peers on many different things; right now we are working on empathy and how to treat other people. We play fun games and just get to know each other. I do think it makes a difference because unless the students in TOPS are in one of my classes I never would have met them.”

To be involved in the TOPS program, contact Gina Campbell via email or in person in Room 201. Her email is [email protected]

“We’re always looking for students that are interested in being mentors,” Campbell said. “Our students with disabilities that take the class truly love being with those mentor students, it is an opportunity for them to just feel like a typical kid.”