By Chris Bavender
Mt. Vernon Middle School is launching a new mentoring program. Developing the program was identified as a need in the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation Strategic Plan after a parent approached the foundation’s executive director, Renee Oldham.
The February launch will be a pilot project for 15 middle school students between sixth and eighth grade.
“Potential mentees will be nominated by a school staff member,” Oldham said. “An information sheet and permission form will be sent home to the parent explaining the benefits of the program. Once the parent permission is received, the student will receive an invitation to the program and an interview will be conducted to further explain the program and answer any questions.
“The student would then complete a mentee survey. This will assist us with matching the student to the best mentor.”
Community members can apply to be mentors. When a match is made, a first meeting will be set up, guided by some “getting-to-know-you” questions, Oldham said.
“Future meetings are a combination of relationship-building and goal-based activities. It takes time to develop a trusting relationship, and each paring will progress differently,” Oldham said. “The foundation will also be providing mentor tool kits that are made up of a variety of items from games, art kits, books, journals and puzzles. Check-ins will occur with both mentors and mentees to see how the relationship is progressing.”
Oldham said research shows mentoring has a “profound impact on children’s health, education, and the greater community.”
“Childtrends.org shares with us that, young adults at risk that have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college, 78 percent (are) more likely to volunteer regularly and 130 percent (are) more likely to hold leadership positions,” she said. “Children who have a formal or informal mentor-like relationship with someone outside their home are less likely to have externalizing behavior problems and internalizing problems.”
To complete a mentor application, visit mtvernonfoundation.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.