Monrovia Middle School was granted the opportunity to re-start its student mentoring program during the second semester of the 2021-2022 school year. Originally developed and launched pre-Covid 19, the Monrovia Middle School Mentoring Program was underway in 2019-2020 for Monrovia’s middle school students to partner with community members to develop skills for future success. This mentoring program provided a set weekly schedule with an evidence-based program for youth to work alongside an adult mentor before school or during their lunch hour. Unfortunately, this program was a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic and as schools across the country were moving to online learning, this program was halted. Originally written and sponsored by the Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) the program was set-up for success with weekly mentoring content and a set schedule, yet fell apart due to not being able to meet in-person with mentees.
As schools began to re-open and loosen visitor restrictions Monrovia Middle School principal, Mrs. Becky McPherson, collaborated with Jessica Schwartz from the CFMC to figure out a way to re-launch the mentoring program. They decided to start small and focus on 20 students with five community mentors. With the approval of the Monroe-Gregg School Board in December of 2021, Mrs. McPherson set about enlisting community volunteers, designing a training, and selecting students. In January 2022 Monrovia Middle School had 5 community mentors and 20 students signed up for the program.
Each week a community mentor met with 3-4 students for 30-40 minutes. During this time the small groups worked on skills such as setting goals, examining their strengths and weaknesses and how to persevere, as well as cultivating a growth mindset. These skills are valuable to have as they enter high school, as well as the workforce. When asked about what the best part of meeting with his mentor was, an 8th grade student said, “Getting to know an adult and learn from him was really cool. It made me think about what I want to do in the future and how my classes now are related to those goals. Our mentor partners from the Monrovia Public Library, Cassie Jones and Jennifer Leitzman, said, “Both of us really enjoyed getting to know the kids and seeing what real-life looks like for them outside of school. It was beneficial for us, as well as the students, to do the coping skills activities.” The mentoring program has been beneficial to both the students and the adults. Building healthy relationships between community members and our young adults is a way to really invest in the future of our community. Business leaders and other partners gain a better understanding of the new generation, while at the same time instilling in them the skills they will need to be successful in the future.
Mrs. McPherson plans to continue the program in the fall and is hoping to expand it by adding mentors to the program, which allow for more student participation. “Middle school is tough! Our students are going through things now that we, as adults, have never really had to deal with. Navigating social media, living through a pandemic; all of this has had an impact on our students’ well-being. Through our continued partnerships with our community mentors, our hope is to grow the program each year to ensure our students are set up for success,” Mrs. McPherson said. Mentoring is a practice that can also be used in the workplace. Pairing experienced staff members with those who have just begun working with your company is an effective way to support those new to your team. Mentoring in the workplace can build confidence, an understanding of the company’s philosophy, and create relationships. Healthy relationships between business partners and staff members creates trust and the opportunity for personal and professional growth. It is important to select the right people to serve as mentors – those who are committed to leading and growing others to becoming the best they can be.
If you are interested in learning more about the Monrovia Middle School Mentoring Program, or would like to become a mentor, please contact Mrs. Becky McPherson at 317-996-2352.
Becky McPherson has been an educator for 18 years, 14 of those serving her community in the Monroe-Gregg School District. Becky completed her undergraduate studies at IUPUI and her graduate work, including earning her Educational Specialist Degree, through Indiana State University. She has been a teacher, assistant principal and principal and during those years has learned the value of creating a positive learning and work environment for her students and staff. Becky and her husband Mike, who is a small business owner of his company J&L Garage Door, enjoy spending time with their two boys, who are both very active in sports and music.