California Middle School's Mentoring Program Measures Up
By MARLEE SHAULIS
The California Area Middle School has implemented a new peer-to-peer mentoring program that encourages students to set goals and strive for success.
The progress of the mentoring program was discussed at the school board meeting on Oct. 7.
Ray Huffman, the middle school principle, reported that the program has been working out well since its start at the beginning of the school year.
The mentoring program allows students to meet with other students to set both long-term and short-term academic goals. The students each set three short-term goals, which last nine weeks, and two long-term goals, which last until the end of the school year.
Huffman said there are 40 eighth graders mentoring 40 seventh graders, and 30 seventh graders mentoring 30 sixth graders. He would also like to see sixth graders mentor fifth graders in the near future.
“The mentoring program is about academic success,” Huffman said. “But it is also about building relationships between students.”
The program is solely peer-to-peer mentoring. Teachers are not involved with the goal-setting process. The middle school teachers are only allowed to observe the meetings between the students.
“I believe it is more meaningful to the
students when they get to talk to their
peers,” Huffman said. “They also feel more comfortable.”
The mentors meet with their mentees every other week to discuss the progress of the goals. The mentors also check on grade improvement and give advice on studying.
Nick Damico, the special education teacher in the middle school, said he recently observed a meeting between the mentors and the mentees.
"I was impressed with how excited the kids were to talk about their goals and their progress,” Damico said. “It is an awesome program.”
Huffman said he has seen improvement in the students since the program started. He
said the students involved have better
attendance, fewer discipline issues, and more academic achievements than before.
“This program has made an impact already,” Huffman said. “And I believe it can only get better.”
He added that “Students are striving higher than ever before. They are learning from
each other while learning about themselves.”
Other points covered at the school board meeting: