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Upper School Corner - Mrs. McKenna Harkins

Wednesday, 23 March, 2016 - 4:49 pm

Mentoring Program

The Hebrew Academy Upper School has recently taken an active approach to creating a positive school community and fostering relationships that span across the school. Throughout the last semester, middle and high school students have enrolled in the Mentoring Program and are working on building essential interpersonal and communication skills. During our meetings on Wednesday afternoons during Enrichment, students have had the opportunity to learn effective mentoring strategies, meet with their Mentor Advisor, and begin to build this program from the ground up.

Administration, faculty on campus, and the students themselves are all eager for this system to take root and healthy relationships to blossom.  Mentoring programs are utilized around the world and in both academic settings and workplace environments to build leadership, provide support, model effective communication skills, and build community. Each individual involved has something to learn.

The mentors benefit from better reasoning, improved conflict resolution skills, heightened organizational habits, greater patience, and more self-awareness and reflection. As our mentors model effective communication and problem solving skills, they will, undoubtedly, foster their own personal growth and communication. Throughout the mentoring process, mentors often recognize patterns in their own lives that help or hinder them, and are more sympathetic towards others and themselves.

Mentees, on the other hand, have shown to have increased academic achievement and greater self efficacy, fewer behavioral problems and a greater connection to school and community. School attendance and involvement tends to increase as these relationships grow and students realize that another student on campus truly has their best interests at heart. This can have a tremendous effect on the emotional, social, and academic success of the mentee in very positive ways.

As a whole, the entire school community strengthens as students begin to practice peer mediation, conflict resolution, and effective communication. As students model appropriate and effective communication, they reinforce this positive habit. They can then practice these strategies with their own peers, and the culture and community of respect will grow. Elementary students will have the opportunity to foster meaningful relationships with their older peers, middle school students will be able to play the role of both the mentor and the mentee, and the high school students will truly set the standard for positive leadership on campus. This encompassing program can truly help to unite the school toward a common goal of healthy respect and communication.

At the Hebrew Academy, we are excited to continue building this program in the upcoming months. Our goal is to create a solid foundation for the Mentoring Program and be ready to roll this program out officially next year to include our elementary mentees. Until then, the Mentoring Program is focused on designing an effective system to reach and support as many students as possible. So far, the mentors have engaged in meaningful training centered on conflict resolution and peer mediation. As we move forward, mentors will continue to learn about active listening, various roles and responsibilities, and what an effective mentor is (and is not). Students have begun to discuss various situations and how to diffuse tension among peers to identify the problem, lead others toward compromise, and reach a solution that satisfies all parties involved.  As we continue to lay the foundation and strengthen this program, we will be sure to keep you updated of our progress and let you know how your student can become involved!

Mrs. McKenna Harkins

Upper School Science Teacher 

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