OSCODA – Oscoda Area Schools (OAS) is offering students additional support through academics, as well as in their social and emotional development through the OAS Mentoring Program.
The OAS Mentoring Program was created many years ago to fill a need for students who were falling through the cracks or required a little extra attention and support that couldn’t be attained in the classroom. For many students, there is a myriad of programs and resources available for them to help with academics.
Some include guidance counselors, school success workers, after school homework help and lunch help, just to name a few. According to the Director of Categorical Funding and overseer of the mentoring program Charlie Negro said prior to the creation of the mentoring program, there was no program designed for a student and an adult to work together one on one and discuss issues or challenges that were unrelated to academics.
With all the safety nets designed to help make students successful in their academics, Negro said he sees the importance in making sure they are succeeding socially and emotionally as well.
“I think the big issue and the big picture is making connections with kids and supporting students,” said Negro.
According to Negro, the mentoring program is a program designed for students to meet one on one with a mentor for 30-45 minutes per week during the school day and work on school work, discuss issues that are bothering them or have a regular conversation and enjoy one another’s company.
Additionally, Negro said the program is meant to serve as a supplemental piece for the student, not a replacement of core instruction, so the student isn’t missing any important pieces in the classroom. Further the meeting time of the student and mentor is determined by the mentor’s availability and the grade levels he or she are willing or able to work with.
Although the mentor is designed to be a listening ear in addition to being a supportive role model for the student, Negro stressed that the position of the mentor is not to serve as a counselor, parent substitute, authority figure, family consultant or baby sitter.
“We’re looking for you to be a listener, share a positive attitude towards school, be reliable and dependable about being here and doing your job as mentor relays a message to the student about them being in school how valuable and important it is doing their job,” said Negro. “As a mentor I guess I’m showing that I care abut you and your success because I’m coming here and volunteering my time to help you, but absolutely not, we’re not counselors.”
Additionally he said on the emotional or social front, mentors can serve as an accountability partner or cheerleader for a student when they feel unmotivated to complete their school work.
“Who doesn’t like to have some extra attention or some one on one time with somebody?” said Negro.
Due to the program serving during the school day, Negro also stressed the importance of mentors and mentees not communicating with each other outside of their designated time together. Whether through texting or calls, participants who agree to be mentors are asked to sign a acceptable use policy for technology detailing that they won’t communicate with their mentee outside of their time together.
Additionally, mentors are also asked to sign a confidentially agreement which states they won’t share the students information with another person unless there are suspected incidents of physical, sexual or verbal abuse or neglect which would be reported to a school administrator in a timely manner.
With the program being in steady motion for many years now, Negro says he has seen success within it citing that he has a few mentors that have worked with the same student for three or four years in elementary school that are now transitioning with the students to high school.
“That is the result, I believe, of that relationship working together and building that relationship which is the key piece even within a classroom,” said Negro. “You try to build a relationship with your student, so that students are working with you, trying to be positive and successful, but I think that’s probably the most valuable part of the process.”
For more information about the OAS Mentoring Program or to apply to be a mentor, contact Negro at email@example.com.