Someone to talk to. Someone to look up to. Both are valuable to a child, even more so if one person can be both.
Bell Elementary’s Mentor Club held its year-end celebration on Tuesday, recognizing the relationships three students and their mentors have built.
“One of our mentees has been in it since 3rd grade and it’s been nice to see how their relationship has grown over the past three years.
They’re rarely absent on Monday because they look forward to seeing their mentor,” said Bell Elementary counselor Lori Fisher.
5th grader Jacob Starks joined Mentor Club in third grade.
“I feel it’s had an impact. I’m more mature now that I’ve had someone to talk to,” said Starks, who will enter Windsor Central Middle School in September. “It feels like I have somebody to talk to whenever I feel down.”
“It’s really about that one-on-one relationship. The kids know they have that go-to person and it’s a great way to start their week,” said Keith Sherman, social work intern and mentor. “It’s the value of familiarity. I’ve been able to do a lot more good for these kids than I thought just by being available, familiar, and associated with a comfortable environment.”
The New York State Mentoring Program follows a research-based model of mentoring in which mentors and mentees meet one-to-one in a supervised environment at a set time and location.
“What we’ve heard is attendance levels are better and grades, reading skills, different components do come up,” said Stephanie Parks, LMSW, Central New York Regional Coordinator for the New York State Mentoring Program.
The attendance isn’t just important for the students, but also the mentors. Showing up can be their biggest contribution.
“What the program does best is establishes you as a trusted face of support. As life sends something their way, you can be there for them,” said Sherman.
“He definitely opened up a bit,” said mentor Leon Jicha about his mentee, Bentley Titus. “It took a bit to build up that trust factor and I’m able to ask deeper questions about his life and what’s going on in it.”
Bell Elementary plans to expand the Mentor Club next school year by recruiting more mentors and students.