Adam Oliver, a Social Studies teacher at Chelsea High School, has been awarded the “2022 Difference Maker” award which recognizes the most outstanding educator facilitating the FOCUS program in Alabama.
FOCUS, a state-wide adolescent risk behavior reduction program, created the award to honor individuals whose passion, enthusiasm, and leadership have resulted in real successes in the prevention of adolescent risk behaviors in their schools and communities. As the winner, Mr. Oliver received $1,000 cash and a trophy.
Oliver, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Samford University, has been teaching since 2016. For the past six years, he has been at Chelsea High School teaching economics, government, AP Macroeconomics, and AP US Government. During his first few years at Chelsea, he was an assistant to the Peer Helper sponsor who led them to be a FOCUS school and doing numerous FOCUS activities for the school. He became the sponsor for the Peer Helper program and continued to participate with FOCUS by attending the FOCUS Rally, having FOCUS leadership speak to the Peer Helper group, and hosting FOCUS for events like Mental Health Awareness Week.
“Mr. Oliver puts a lot of energy and hard work into our Peer Helper program,” said the individual who nominated Oliver for the award. “He cares so much about the students in our program and throughout the school. We would love to be able to show him just how much we appreciate his dedication and caring heart.”
Chelsea High School has 29 passionate student leaders who participate in FOCUS, organized under their Peer Helper Program. They are made up of juniors and seniors who are committed to making a difference in their school through their example and through activities that try to shape a healthier student experience for everyone at Chelsea High School.
During the past year, Peer Helper students under Oliver’s leadership led an Impact Day Student Conference for about 200 students, where they led both large and small groups in activities and discussions related to combating bullying, prejudice, social isolation, and other challenges for students. The students also planned a Mental Health Awareness Week where each day different topics were emphasized to help remove the stigma and encourage everyone to have a place to seek help if needed. That week concluded with a Mental Health Fair, where representatives from more than 10 different organizations set up booths and talked to hundreds of the students about topics ranging from struggling with eating disorders, dealing with alcohol and substance abuse, dealing with depression/anxiety and self-harm, and a host of other issues among high schoolers. They have also done several other activities throughout the year.
In addition to being Peer Helpers, these students are active in Big Brothers Big Sisters, community service projects, Freshmen Mentoring groups, and numerous encouragement and informational promotions around the school’s campus.
“We are honored to recognize Adam Oliver for his outstanding leadership,” said FOCUS Director Sue Jones. “Congratulations and thank you to Mr. Oliver for his work in reducing the incidence of adolescent risk behaviors and truly making a difference in the lives of students!”