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Students Benefit With Extra Attention In Frederick Leighton Mentoring Program

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – Sometimes elementary age students just need a little extra attention.

Several years ago when Laura Ryder arrived as the new principal of the Frederick Leighton Elementary School she brought along a project that would prove to be a very positive addition to the west side Oswego school.

At the year end celebration of the Frederick Leighton Elementary School mentoring program the participants had a great time. In front are Oswego City School District Social Worker Meg Quigley, Zachary Shurtliff, Tiffany Crowe and Joshua Scheirer. In back are Mike LaPoint, Ellen French, Dallas Bennett, Rich Henry and Program Coordinator Nancy Hale.Ryder had been involved in a mentoring program in a previous school district where she had worked. She really wanted to add it to the Leighton program and she followed through to initiate it in the building.

Since its introduction by former principal Ryder, the mentoring program has had a positive impact on participating students and adults.

The effort is designed to enhance the lives of children and it has proven extremely worthwhile.

Coordinator Nancy Hale noted, “The goal is to match children who would benefit from having some individual attention with volunteer adult mentors from the community. The participants meet once a week throughout the school year for about an hour at a time.”

During those visits the pair can engage in a variety of activities, primarily based on the student’s interests.

Hale noted, “Some activities that the children have been involved in this past year have been structured with such projects as decorating cookies, making birdhouses, making jewelry and other crafts. Other activities have been unstructured as the participants have painted pictures, created with Play-Doh and played with a doll house.”

Some times students use this opportunity to get help with school work in the one-on-one time that is available.

In the beginning of every school year children who are interested in participating in the mentoring program complete an application that asks them to explain whey they want a mentor and what kinds of activities they would like to do.

They also have a personal interview with the coordinator of the program to discuss the mentoring program.

Hale said, “The adults who apply to be mentors are carefully selected and complete an application form. Character references are checked. There is an orientation meeting in the beginning of the year to discuss the role of the mentor and how to appropriately handle various situations that may occur during mentoring. Follow-up consultation is available as needed with the coordinator of the mentoring program or with a school social worker.”

Mentors for the program come from a variety of areas including local industry, the school district and retirees.

Hale noted,” The children in the mentoring program look forward to spending time with their mentor each and every week. However, it is also an hour that is anxiously awaited by the mentors. This is a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”

Leighton Principal Julie Burger will welcome the community volunteers when the mentoring program resumes in September as the beneficial experience will continue.