No stranger to the cross-country team, Ms. Barbara LaPenta returns as not just a teacher and coach, but also as a researcher. Currently teaching precalculus and having taught Algebra II, Calculus, and Statistics, while also advising the yearbook club, Ms. LaPenta has made quite an impact over the past four years. Now, she looks to extend her reach into research.
The International Boys’ School Coalition (IBSC) aims to better the education and well-being of boys around the world. Each year, they run a research project with meticulously selected topics for educators, to further their understanding of boys in the best way possible. The topic for this year’s research is “Promoting Healthy Masculinity Beyond the Classroom.”
Ms. LaPenta’s motivation for undertaking this project came from statistics that she saw about school-age boy mental health and masculinity.
“I don’t want my students to become statistics,” Ms. LaPenta said. “I want to be able to shake away some of those stereotypes to make a more round and wholesome person.”
Her research centers on the cross-country team.
“I think we have just a solid culture, I think it’s a really great starting point,” Ms. LaPenta said. She believes the work could branch off into groups such as other sporting teams, advisories, or other affinity groups.
I think we have a very good culturally big group, but I think that a lot of our boys are similar in mentalityMs. lapenta
“I think we have a very good culturally big group, but I think that a lot of our boys are similar in mentality,” Ms. LaPenta said. “While the cross country team is a good start, when it branches off to other places, there will be more conversations to be had with a more diverse range of students.”
Ms. LaPenta has a baseline survey that the cross-country team took at the beginning of the season and will take again at the end of the season.
“Essentially, we’re going to do scenario-based learning and students will have discussions on how they feel or how they would react to it,” she said. She looks to have discussions so that the team is also aware of scenarios that occur in everyday life.
Ms. LaPenta researched to find a questionnaire that was short, succinct, and fit. She decided on using the Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale (WLEIS).
“I thought that the research would be a little bit more straightforward, especially as a math teacher,” said Ms. LaPenta. “However, it’s actually very difficult to sort through all of it, compare it with prior research, and make sure deadlines are met.”
What I will be doing is analyzing my results and writing about them for the remainder of the yearMs. LaPenta
The project will last for the entire year. “The actual research part of it is only during the fall sports season,” Ms. LaPenta said. “What I will be doing is analyzing my results and writing about them for the remainder of the year.”