Mentoring program helps students learning remotely in Northmont schools

ajc.com

Program is being paid for with CARES money and other grants.

CLAYTON – Students in the Northmont City Schools engaged in remote learning have had a helping hand, if desired, thanks to an e-Mentoring Program sponsored in part by local businesses.

The program has paired students who would benefit from having a mentor and teachers interested in being a mentor.

In addition to business sponsors, the program is being paid for with CARES money and other grants received by the district, said Susanne Lintz, Northmont schools’ assistant superintendent curriculum, instruction and technology.

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The district also is working with the Mentoring Collaborative through Sinclair Community College for professional development and program support.

The program involves students in kindergarten through 12th grade with around 140 students and 50 mentors during the second quarter, when the program was introduced. For the third quarter, there are around 40 mentors and more than 100 students. All families met with the mentor before the mentorships began.

Each student is assigned to mentor from their school, Lintz said. “This allows for these students to have a ‘go-to’ adult that they have a strong relationship with from their home building,” she said.

It was clear some students learning through virtual-only experiences were finding it difficult to connect with school and their teachers, Lintz said.

“Because of this, their engagement with school and their social (and) emotional well-being were being impacted. As a district, we knew we had to try to do something in addition to what we were already doing to support our students. When funding was made available to support remote learning, using it to provide mentors seemed like one of the best options to continue to try to engage with and provide the help and support our students needed,” she said.

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Mentors meet with their students about one hour per week. While building a relationship, the mentor determines the student’s needs, which could include organizational strategies, academic support or ongoing relationship building.

Mentors who provided comments on the program talked about students receiving emotional support in addition to assistance with reading and other classes.

“In my role as a mentor, I have been allowed into the homes and lives of our students. We have shared joys as grades have improved, tasks have been completed, and hard work has paid off. And we have had serious conversations about the need to stay focused and self-motivated even with the distractions in their homes,” a mentor said.

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“The students have shared so much of themselves with me - their pets, favorite activities and family holiday traditions. I feel honored to be a part of our students’ lives and someone who helps support them during this very challenging time.”

Businesses were asked by the Northmont Area Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a student or students for $200 each. The response has been good, said Angie Clifford of the Chamber of Commerce and the schools’ community engagement coordinator.

“We have had some really good success so far. Many of the mentors have shared stories of their mentees joining more virtual class meetings and being more engaged with their school work and classes,” Lintz said. “Mentors have also reported that mentees and their families have appreciated having the mentor and feel that they have a connection to the school now,” she added.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

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