STAFF EDITORIAL: Mentor program needs attention

The purpose of the mentorship program is to ease the middle to upper school transition, to foster cross-grade relationships, and to provide 9th graders with someone to answer their questions. Currently, these goals are not evident with the way the program is being run, and mentors are not aware of them.

The program, established in 2013, provides every 9th grade student with one, or in some cases two, junior or senior mentors. Upperclassmen can sign up to be paired with a 9th grade student at the end of the school year, and are assigned at the beginning of the next year based on the responses of the older and the younger students to a pairing survey completed the year before. This survey should also be available to any students who are new to the SPA community in 9th grade. These new students could be assigned to mentors who themselves were new students in 9th grade and can give advice they wish they had gotten.

As with the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, a 9th grade class leadership council should be established to collaborate with USC and address on the needs of the 9th grade class.

It is a part of the SPA tradition to anticipate becoming a mentor in your junior or senior year. However, the program currently prioritizes seniors who are often busy with early college applications. Rather than assigning mentors who will be in the midst of the application process, juniors should be granted priority as mentors, not only because they would have more time to offer, but because they would be on campus for another year and the relationship would be more valuable and long-lasting.

The first few meetings of the year should allow for the mentor(s) and mentee to get to know each other naturally. These meetings could take the form of activities, such as movie night or ice skating during which the mentor(s) and mentee get to know each other as friends, and then as students.

This can be achieved by scheduling more meetings and providing mentors with reminders to check-in with their mentees. Checking in doesn’t always have to be physical meetings—mentors and mentees can exchange emails or phone numbers to make for more frequent conversations. Mentors should also consider meeting during free time at as well as outside of school to create an organic relationship.

In the meantime, current mentors and mentees should reach out to each other to try to meet outside of any required meetings before the end of the second quarter. Sophomores who enjoyed their mentee experience and want some support or advice should reach out to any of their older classmates.

This piece was originally published in the November issue of The Rubicon