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A Different Method: Peer Mentors at MVHS

A+Peer+Mentor+getting+to+know+their+freshmen
A Peer Mentor getting to know their freshmen

A Peer Mentor getting to know their freshmen

A Peer Mentor getting to know their freshmen

Michael Del Rosario, Staff Writer

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Starting high school can be overwhelming.  Whether one is confident or shy, navigating the halls of high school can be difficult. Teachers do their best to make sure students feel safe and comfortable in their first year of high school.

But what if the teachers aren’t enough? It is often hard for students to relate to a teacher, or any adult. Teachers will not always be able to understand students, sometimes because of the age gap, or just because they have different experiences.

So if the teachers can’t help, then who can?  

That is where the peer mentors come in.  Instead of the adults in the building, mentors are everyday students here at Mount  Vernon.

But what exactly are the Peer Mentors?  

“Peer mentors are juniors and seniors who have been specially trained by an outside trainer to mentor our freshmen class,” Ms. McManus, one of the teachers in charge of the peer mentoring program, explained.

They must have a teacher or counselor nominate them to be considered, and teachers and counselors are looking for students that are organized and able to handle their own course work so they will be able to assist freshmen with high school. They don’t need any particular GPA; they just need to be responsible, personable, approachable, and willing to help the freshmen make the transition to high school”

— Joy McManus

The peer mentoring program has been in place in Mount Vernon for  six years, and thanks to the mentors, the first year of high school for many freshman is both memorable and relaxing.

Giving students someone who they can relate to can often be  more helpful than having an adult working with them.. Freshman often feel more comfortable and are open to talking to their mentors. They can find them in freshman Major Time classes  or in the halls.

Of course, none of this could have been possible without the help and motivation from Deb Hult starting with her powerful and positive message of “WHY I CAN” that she has shared to thousands across the country.

Deb Hult is a woman from New Hampshire who comes down to Mount Vernon once a month to help train the peer mentors in different activities that will help them mentor the freshmen class. She has put her dedication into the many activities she’s involved in, such as Leadership Training and Mentoring Programs to help students become leaders.

“As an individual I have been doing the peer mentoring program for about 12 years,” Hult said.

“It all started way back when, because I had a mentor that helped me beat the odds of statistics, and so my passion is for student-to-student mentoring because we are more likely to listen to our peers;no disrespect to adults but the relatability is huge and so that’s my passion. And because I had a people in my life that help me get through high school. I never forget that.”

With the experiences Hult has had in the past, she has made it her mission to help younger kids find someone who can help them get past any obstacle. She can see that her cause has made a difference in students’ lives for the better. She sees every year the mentors bringing something new to the table, and sees how they are becoming more open and more willing to get out there and mentor others.

The Peer mentors are tasked to go out to their assigned major time class and tasked to do specific activities such as ice breakers and perspective conversations. By doing that the mentors get to know about their freshmen, and the freshmen get to warm up to the mentors. And with that a bond of mentor to mentee is formed. The freshmen will have someone else to talk to other than an adult or normal peers.

High school will be a lot less stressful for freshmen with the peer mentors help.

“It has made the transition to high school smoother, and it has been a very big help to me,” a former freshmen told Ms. McManus.

With the the seniors leaving, Hult wants the seniors to know that “At the end of the day, they do make a difference. And that they remember everyone is facing a battle that they know nothing about, including yourselves, And we are all more alike than what we might perceive. And so watch yourself talk and believe you can.”

 

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A Different Method: Peer Mentors at MVHS