By Celine Klosterman
BURLINGTON — Staffers at Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School have noticed more camaraderie in the halls since launching a student mentoring program this fall. They hope Students Trained As Role Models (STAR) also will help their fellow students become better problem solvers, said religion teacher Nita Carlson and registrar/college advisor Beth Delaney.
In the program, 20 students have paired up with 24 mentees in grades six to 12 to enhance personal skills. Teachers or parents refer mentees whom they think could benefit from extra social or academic guidance, especially students who are new to Notre Dame. Those students then begin meeting with trained mentors selected by faculty and staff.
Notre Dame was inspired last year to create the STAR program after a part-time counselor, dean of students and other staffers responded to students’ personal conflicts and struggles. “We wished we had full-time counselors,” Carlson said. “So last spring, we started talking about, ‘How can we make our job easier and create more interaction between students?’”
Counselor Tana Fourdyce suggested student-to-student mentoring, found at schools throughout the United States. She researched and developed a program, and high-school youths interested in becoming mentors submitted applications and teachers’ letters of recommendation. A committee chose mentors who were solid students, problem solvers, comfortable and confident at Notre Dame, Carlson said. Youths then underwent three hours of training that included role playing, discussion and lessons on confidentiality.
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