The Middle Division Mentoring Program allows students in the Horace Mann Upper Division to guide and advise Middle Division students through a smooth transition to the Upper Division. The program, created over 20 years ago, has impacted the experiences of both middle and high school students.
The MD Mentoring Program strives to foster relationships between middle and high schoolers and provide a strong support system and a unique resource aside from faculty and their peers, leader of the program Julia Roth (12) said.
“The mission of the Middle Division Mentoring Program is to have high school students share their wisdom and experiences with the middle schoolers,” Eva Abbamonte, MD History Department Chair whose advisees participate in the program, said.
Nick Potash (11), a middle division mentor, describes the program as a great way to give back to the community. “It’s a way to provide something for middle schoolers who need someone to talk to who isn’t a teacher,” he said.
“The connections between mentors and mentees is invaluable and the program helps both groups grow as valuable members of the school community and as individuals. Mentors also provide confidence to middle schoolers in their role within school,” Roth said.
Louise Kim (8) noticed how she personally benefited from the program along with other middle schoolers. “I’ve learned a lot from my mentors, and I like seeing younger students participate as well because I know that they really enjoy the program,” she said.
All mentors attend a mandatory training session at John Dorr Nature Laboratory during the summer before they take part in the program.
“I went to Dorr in mid-August to do some training. There was a speaker there, who was great. Dr. Kelly comes up for a day to do training stuff,” said Potash.
However, this mandatory session prevents many otherwise worthy candidates from participating, said Eva Abbamonte. “Some kids have to switch out because even though they might be great mentors they are not available for training up at Dorr,” she said.
Activities vary across each homeroom.
“My homeroom just talks to our mentor about our weeks and school lives, however, we don’t do any activities with her,” Emily Salzhauer (8) said.
Julia Werdiger (7) shares similar experiences to Salzhauer and said, “my mentors usually just answer any questions we might have about middle school and in return, offer advice or solutions.”
“When the mentors share their experiences, it’s really helpful because it makes us feel more comfortable in the environment that we are in,” Amelia Hirsch (6) said.
Some students expressed discontent with their mentors’ performance and would appreciate more oversight, Hirsch said.
Isabel Mavrides-Calderon (8) had a generally positive experience with the program with only a few downsides. “Although my mentor has been helpful when she’s there, she’s missed a lot of meetings. I wish there was more of a structure to what the mentors are supposed to do.”
“My mentor only comes to homeroom twice a month, whereas others come every week, so I feel that having more frequent meetings are important,” Salzhauer said.
“I wish that there was a little more structure as to how mentors and advisors interact with each other,” Abbamonte said.
Despite this room for improvement, the Mentoring Program provides a meaningful way for high schoolers to give back to the school community and for middle-schoolers to benefit from their mentors’ experiences and advice, Werdiger said.
“As a middle-schooler, my mentors were awesome, so it’s great to be able to hopefully be the same thing for others,” Potash said.