ELLENVILLE – Ellenville Elementary School (EES) Grade 6 students who may be anxious about their transition to the Junior/Senior High School now have a reason to feel better about their big move. A new mentorship program, led by EES Assistant Principal Heather Heidelberg and Districtwide Case Worker Briana Mangram, pairs graduating EES students with Ellenville seniors, allowing their older counterparts to “show them the ropes.”
“The transition from Elementary to Junior High School can be difficult academically and socially,” said Mangram. “This program gives our sixth graders the opportunity to connect with students who have been through these experiences and succeeded.”
Currently there are 19 Grade 6 students and 15 senior members of the National Honor Society participating in the program. During their introductory meeting, senior mentors joined the sixth graders for lunch, and shared about what clubs they are involved in, their goals for after graduation, and if they currently work while attending school. The younger students also had the opportunity to ask questions or voice their concerns.
Mangram and Heidelberg collaborated with Grade 6 teachers early on to determine the best fits for each of the students based on their interests, personalities, and future aspirations.
Since then, students from both grade levels have been truly enjoying the experience.
“The Grade 6 students look forward to ‘their senior’ coming down to eat lunch with them and talk,” said Heidelberg. “It’s also an eye-opening experience for our seniors to reflect and put themselves back into the shoes they once wore.”
During meetings with their mentors, Grade 6 students have been busy tackling topics such as their future goals, what makes them feel anxious, what positive relationships look like, and accountability expectations in Junior High, to name a few.
“My mentor is really nice and easy to talk to,” said Grade 6 student Treshaun Harris. “I feel really comfortable around him and I am looking forward to making more older friends.”
“After meeting with my mentor, I’m not so worried about some of the changes in Junior High,” explained Grade 6 student SapharrahMaldonato. Her mentor, Shyama Patel, reassured her that there would be quiet places to do homework after school, as well as homework help if she needed it. “I am looking forward to that,” Maldonato added. “And getting home earlier!”
Senior Max Dickman appreciates the experience of meeting the younger students and being able to share his hard-earned wisdom. “It’s been great getting to know the sixth graders,” he said. “Many of them opened up right away, and expressed what they are struggling with, which is often peer pressure and fitting in.”
“When my mentee brings up these issues, I tell him to ‘be yourself, be an original,’” Dickman continued. “And I assure him that, as you get older, it gets easier, and things get better.”
“I’m glad that I can share that knowledge now because I lived through it,” he added.
Both Mangram and Heidelberg are pleased with how the mentorship program has been received by students. “Based on the success we see so far, we are looking forward to both continuing and expanding the program,” said Mangram.