MD Mentoring program implements changes for the upcoming school year

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Vidhatrie Keetha, Staff Writer

“The mentor program is unique in that it is one of the very few programs that bridges the Middle and Upper Divisions,” co-leader of the Middle Division Mentoring (MDM) program Leyli Granmayeh (12) said. “As a middle schooler, having a high school mentor that I could look up to, ask questions, and even just say ‘hi’ to in the hallway made a big difference in easing my transition and making me comfortable in the community.”

The MDM program has undergone several changes over the course of this year. For example, training for new mentors will be held on campus in June for one day instead of at Dorr for three days or on Zoom in August, co-leader of the MDM program Ria Chowdhry (11) said. 

The training in June will inform mentors of their responsibilities and tasks for the coming year, Chowdhry said. Chowdhry is excited that the training will be held on campus because it allows mentors from each grade to get to know each other through in-person activities, she said.

In addition to the training in June, a “booster session” will be held in August exclusively for 10th grade mentors and will be aimed towards preparing them to meet their sixth grade mentees for the first time, Chowdhry said.

Another aspect of the MDM program that has changed this year is the program’s tutoring component. The tutoring program provides middle schoolers with accessible and individualized assistance from high schoolers who understand what it is like to be a student at the school, tutoring coordinator Isabella Colacino (11) said. “It is [also] meant to forge and strengthen relationships between mentors and mentees,” she said.

During the school year, Colacino has worked to reinvent the existing tutoring program to make it stronger. “The other tutoring coordinator and I pretty much started from the drawing board,” Colacino wrote. “We thought of the best ways that the program could flourish under the abnormal circumstances of this year. We also did a lot with marketing the program because no one really knew what the program had to offer.”

One of the changes Colacino made was adding a hybrid component to the program so that mentees could choose whether to meet online or in-person. Next year, Colacino hopes to expand the program by involving more mentors and offering more in-person tutoring, she said. 

The biggest changes to the program will be spearheaded by the new leadership, Granmayeh said. 

Ariela Shuchman (10), one of the newly elected junior leaders for the program, would like to prepare middle schoolers for high school with a mini clubs’ fair or a “go to class with a high schooler” day, she said. Shuchman chose to apply for a leadership position with the hopes of improving the program with her contributions, she said.

Shuchman also wants to increase diversity among mentors. “It’s super important that middle schoolers have people they can relate to in their experiences at HM and in the world,” she said. One way Shuchman hopes to do this is by recruiting students who are involved in affinity groups, she said. 

Giselle Paulson (10), another recently elected junior leader, wants to increase the amount of time that mentees spend with their mentors by giving mentors the ability to visit full-period advisory sessions. “By increasing the amount of time, you strengthen the relationship,” Paulson said. 

Paulson applied for a leadership position because she enjoyed her experience as a mentor this year and wanted to help improve the program.

Granmayeh is proud of how the MDM program has adapted to the challenges posed by the pandemic and is optimistic for next year, she said. “All the mentors have had to work extra hard to support their mentees in this unconventional year and to work around all the barriers,” she said. “I’m most excited to see how the program evolves and what changes the new leadership makes to really make the program their own.”