Adjusting to the demands of high school is easier for the freshman class at Marshall High School with guidance from their mentors in the senior class. A unique mentor program provides ninth graders with weekly support from their peers.
Every Friday, senior mentors meet with all freshmen during World Geography classes. It’s part of the “Citizenship in Action” curriculum, and together they tackle lessons on topics such as time management, learning styles, and friendships.
This year there are about 140 mentors and 650 freshmen. Students apply to be mentors during junior year and attend two trainings during the summer. Then they are matched with a group of five or six freshmen for the entire school year.
“The goal is to encourage academic success, citizenship, and leadership with the freshman class and establish great habits right away in high school,” says Sandra McKinzie, government teacher and program coordinator. “We also want to encourage interaction and help freshmen become connected and feel like they belong here at Marshall.”
The mentor program began three years ago as part of Marshall’s “Freshman House” initiative which provides ninth graders with enhanced academic support. It was created to help increase attendance, decrease discipline issues, and lead to higher grades and test scores.
Even though the program didn’t exist when they were in the ninth grade, the mentors understand the impact they can have as role models.
“We didn’t hear from anyone but our teachers, so I hope I can teach them what to do and learn from some of the mistakes I made along the way,” says senior Logan Mangold. “I want them to be successful.”
Freshman Jada Coleman says her mentor Logan has already helped her become more confident. “He makes us come out of our shells and talk to him. I am a quiet person and don’t talk as much.”
Freshman Noah Hoglund agrees, “In the beginning our mentor was doing most of the talking but now we’ve all gotten to know each other. You feel like you can talk to them instead of just your teachers. We talk about stress, getting things done, finding your weaknesses and ways to improve.”