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An Impressionable Age
Pipe Creek mentor program flourishes
By Eric Stoff, firstname.lastname@example.org
A new mentor program at Pipe Creek Elementary School is pairing students with community members and school staff members.
The program, called Check and Connect, involves about eight mentors, who meet with Pipe Creek students individually and on a regular basis. During their meetings, the mentors encourage and teach the students, and help them make good choices in and out of school.
“We really like the program, and we would like to see it grow,” said Pipe Creek Principal Laura Fulton.
Fulton said the program serves about 10 students currently. She also said the program is not necessarily for students with behavioral struggles, but rather for students who need a positive relationship or “words of encouragement.”
Randy Baldwin, a retired Maconaquah administrator, serves as the mentor for one first grade student at Pipe Creek. He said their conversations are not academic in nature, but he listens to what is important to the student and offers encouragement and advice.
Baldwin and Fulton agree that expectations for classroom teachers have extended, as Baldwin says, “outside of the boundaries of reading, writing, and arithmetic.”
“It seems that the areas of expertise in the traditional curriculum have taken a backseat to areas once provided by the home or church,” he said.
Baldwin said he personally had many mentors growing up, including his parents, grandparents, adults at church, and teachers. He can still recall “life lessons” taught by his kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers.
He said elementary students will always learn from the adults around them, whether the adults are aware of it or not. They’re at an impressionable age.
“They are little humans thirsting to learn, and learn they do,” he said. “What is provided by any adult at this age has a great impact on how that young person will develop as an adult.”
Last school year, Four County Counseling received a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) grant to partner with Pipe Creek. This partnership led to an evaluation of the school’s discipline plan, which Fulton said revealed “a huge need.”
She said the need was for positive reinforcement and one-on-one interaction with adults, specifically men and professionals other than a student’s classroom teacher.
Check and Connect is a direct response to the need that was revealed in the evaluation, according to Fulton, and being part of a small community has provided a great pool of volunteer mentors.
“We wanted to involve people in the community … and to let students know, ‘Hey, there are a lot of people that care about you,’” Fulton said.
January is National Mentoring Month. As a way to celebrate, Maconaquah School Corporation is providing a look into the many mentoring and remediation programs offered across its four school buildings. Be sure to check back throughout the month for more stories and photos detailing how Maconaquah provides these services for its students.