An “at-risk student” is defined as a child who has a high probability of failing academically. There are several systems and resources in place to bolster the academic development of these students. However, there are aspects of these students’ lives that have an impact on their academic performance that formal education systems do not always consider. Whether it’s the lack of parental support, financial instability, or a difficult home-life, many at-risk students are faced with challenges beyond their struggles in math or lack of participation in music. While academic development is crucial, there are also gaps in the social and emotional development of at-risk students that need to be addressed.
That is where school-based mentoring comes in place.
There are several models for mentorship programs across the country, but they all hope for the same outcome. It addresses the idea that many students lack positive relationships in their life that consequently have negative impacts on their education, future goals, and overall development. Bay County is fortunate to have the Bay District Schools Elevate Bay program, which pairs community volunteers with students who have been identified by their teachers and counselors as someone in need of a hand to hold.
A mentor does not necessarily have to be a math-expert to help students with their homework. They just have to present and attentive to listen to their student and observe their needs. Mentors serve as motivators who help students get to the finish line and beyond. Or they can serve as self-esteem boosters who help students learn to express themselves and boost their social development. Sometimes, they can also be the ones to show their student the bigger picture of life and what the future holds.
According to the U.S Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program, mentored youth have displayed significant improvements in various notable factors including academic efficiency, school attendance, and graduation outcomes. The development of positive relationships through mentorship have also indicated improvements in peer and teacher relationships.
A critical goal for our organization is to ensure that students are provided the resources to be able to take the path forward and mentorship is a key element of that. We have partnered with Elevate Bay to recruit mentors across our community so that more students can feel the impact of mentorship. After Hurricane Michael, Elevate Bay faced a significant loss in volunteer mentors, but an increase in the need for them. As a mentor, you have the power to change the trajectory of a student’s life by committing just a minimum of 30 minutes of your day twice a month, although once you get started you will want to go more often. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please reach out to us on our website’s contact form.
“Impact Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Education.” Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, ies.ed.gov/ncee/pubs/20094047/.