When it comes to mentoring, Communities In Schools knows providing positive role models for students is vital to supporting their academic success. And while the majority of the time mentors are caring adults who form relationships with students, there are also examples of high school seniors and recent grads – all served by Communities In Schools – who are providing leadership and guidance as mentors to younger students.
At Communities In Schools of North Texas, the student council at Lewisville High School recruits students to volunteer to be mentors and tutors at a number of elementary and middle schools. Sung Cin is one of the Lewisville students who meets weekly with a younger student at Hedrick Middle School. Sung and her mentee meet for 45 minutes each week during lunch, then head to the library to play board games or tackle homework.
“I love having older students as mentors,” said Tasha Moore, program manager at Hedrick Middle School. “High school students are living through all the experiences we try to help our students overcome. When a high school mentor shares what he or she has been through with a younger student, the lesson we have been trying to teach seems to finally stick.”
Moore was doubly pleased with the help she got from Sung, as she discovered the high school student could help her break down a language barrier. Several of the students at Hedrick are Chin, an ethnic group from Burma. When Sung arrived at the middle school for her first visit with her mentee she was expecting to only talk with one student. Instead she found herself assisting five other students, helping Moore overcome the language barrier by speaking to the students in their native tongue.
“Volunteering one’s time to mentor a student is an incredible gift. When the mentor is able to communicate in the student’s native dialect, it is even more amazing,” said Moore.
Across the country, alumni served by Communities In Schools are also showing support for students by volunteering as mentors to recent high school grads. Take the group of alumni who are attending Central Piedmont College in Charlotte, N.C. They have been a community of support for incoming college freshmen. This student-led support system is focused on making sure students do not feel lost or become disengaged, and are able to graduate. Acting as mentors, they help keep students on track with their grades, introduce them to community service projects and organize networking opportunities.
Jamal Tate, a former student from Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, knows firsthand how important getting support from mentors can be. Jamal is now a student at Central Piedmont, and makes time to give back by volunteering as president of the local Communities In Schools alumni network chapter.
“I know how great it is to have somebody who will come and show you a better way,” said Jamal in an article in the Charlotte Observer.
Last month, a group of alumni from Central Piedmont College also conducted a college campus tour for Communities In Schools students from Albemarle Road Elementary School. Several fourth-graders were led around the campus and given the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the college experience.
Communities In Schools students continue to demonstrate the meaning of giving back by being mentors to the next generation of students and community leaders.