The Mentorship Program consists of Burnette’s Peer Leadership class that is offered at Scholars Academy as an elective. The course provides opportunities for students to become self-aware of their peers and the ability to communicate effectively.
The mentors of the program prepare a lesson plan at the beginning of every other week that elaborates on a specific moral concept such as ‘honesty’ or ‘loyalty,’ which has already been taught to the mentees. The mentors start the lesson with a group activity that involves all of the mentees. After stating the word that will be focused on, the mentors and mentees are paired up, and these pairs stay connected until the end of the school year.
“We wanted to work with kids that were middle of the road students, not kids that were at-risk nor kids that were gifted but kids who were in the middle and might not receive a lot of attention,” said Burnette.
Burnette was motivated to start the program by her research in education and found that mentorship had a significant impact on younger students.
“Students with mentors were more likely to go down a positive road, so the idea is to get older students paired up with younger kids to try to help more kids go down that positive track,” said Burnette.
Burnette sees that her students come back excited and she knows that they learn so much through teaching.
Seniors Jourdan Fowler and Jenna Long enjoy spending time with the younger students, which allows them to reminisce about their younger selves.
“I enjoy getting to interact with and teach the younger children. It’s funny to think that this used to be me making jokes, and that I was ‘this’ tall. I was also the one waiting for recess to start,” said Fowler.
Long said, “I really enjoy getting to be with the little kids and just seeing how we use to be that little growing up.”
The older students benefit from the experience just as much as the younger students. Senior Tori Cordista explains what she has gotten out of the Mentorship Program.
“I’ve learned that whenever you are going to teach somebody, you have to really think about your lesson and think about how you are going to come up with something to elaborate on,” said Cordista.
Junior Dane Dyksterhouse is learning the importance of students having role models in their lives.
“Younger kids don’t always have an older brother or an older sister in their life to look up to, so we’re kinda like their role models and that’s something that we don’t realize,” said Dyksterhouse.
The future for the Mentorship Program shines bright as Burnette is trying to expand the program so that all elementary schools within Thomasville City Schools are participating.
“This year our goals was to get two schools participating and then hopefully next year we can expand to the third elementary school, but our overall goal is to get as many kids as we can impacted by the experience,” said Burnette.