Peer Mentoring class matches seniors with younger students

Student peer mentors stand in a grassy field

Every year, a group of seniors at Cairo-Durham High School takes a one-credit class called Peer Mentoring. The class is based on the Peer Group Connection (PGC), which is a form of peer mentoring used to support students with the various challenges they face. With the help of teacher advisor Emily Jones, this year’s group of seniors intend to stand out as role models that encapsulate the school’s image and integrity.

Student mentors learn about communication skills, active listening skills, behaviors associated with teen issues, bullying, conflict resolution and other lessons that will help them provide support to their peers.

The most important contribution of the Peer Mentoring class is to help freshmen effectively transition from middle school to high school. The peer mentors meet once a week with a group of students (STAR 9), identified by faculty members, to discuss and examine issues they may face with peer pressure, relationships, and other common challenges a high schooler might face. The mentors meet with their mentees during their math class to work out math problems and to give other academic support.  The mentors also provide review for midterm, final and regents exams for all freshman after school at scheduled times.  

Mentors are also matched with middle school students to explore activities such as “sit-and-chat” sessions, goal setting and study skills. The mentors work one-on-one with eighth grade middle schoolers to assist each student in adjusting to the changes that will come with the transition to high school. In addition to emotional support, the Peer Mentoring class often provides academic support to middle school students in Academic Recovery.

Additionally, the senior peer mentors take the initiative to reach out to individual students who might not need the support of one-to-one mentoring but would gain from peer interactions.  A peer mentor willing to sit with a student sitting alone at lunch or invite another student to attend a school event are only two examples of how they reach out to their peers.

Although they work primarily with middle and high school students, the seniors in Peer Mentoring have started to work with elementary students as well. The class visits Cairo-Durham Elementary (CDE) twice a month to mentor the elementary students, reaching out to the younger kids by modeling appropriate social behaviors at recess and supporting any kids who would like company. Mrs. Jones hopes to add more mentoring activities at CDE.

“The Peer Mentoring program allows seniors to establish a unique bond with freshmen, middle and elementary school students,” said Mrs. Jones. “Through the Peer Mentoring class, students help create a caring, safe learning environment where diversity is respected and celebrated.”

“These seniors are true role models,” continued Mrs. Jones. “They help students strengthen their self-confidence and be successful by providing the right tools and some extra encouragement. I have a dedicated, motivated group of students this year and I am looking forward to see how they impact the program.”