In the TST BOCES Regional Alternative School, older students bond with middle school students as part of Senior Mentor Program.
The program allows RAS seniors and middle school students to interact in a group setting in order to develop meaningful, personal relationships. This year meetings have mostly consisted of “getting to know you” activities to help start forging friendships.
“It has taken a few years for this program to evolve into a true student-to-student collaboration,” said Suzanne Massa, RAS High School English teacher. “Ideally, seniors should ‘own’ the process. If they do, their mentees are more engaged, and the mentors begin to realize their own power and competence. We’re so careful to keep people separated by age, in school. Yet we all know that mixed-age interactions are beneficial to all participants.”
Through the Senior Mentor Program, middle school students are given a student they can look up to but it also gives RAS seniors the opportunity of being looked up to. The program also helps foster a sense of community in the school, and it eases the transition from middle school to high school.
Originally conceived by a RAS student, the Senior Mentor Program has been running for around four years and continues to help both the middle school students and seniors involved.