Royals Oaks program enlists mentorsIn January Royal Oaks Elementary started a new peer-mentoring program called RISE, which stands for Relationships Increase Success in Education. RISE pairs elementary students with a student from the Woodbury High School Teacher Cadet program.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Some Royal Oaks Elementary students just need a little extra help and the school has taken steps to make sure they receive it.
In January Royal Oaks Elementary started a new peer-mentoring program called RISE, which stands for Relationships Increase Success in Education.
RISE pairs elementary students with a student from the Woodbury High School Teacher Cadet program.
Every Tuesday and Thursday after school the “bigs” work with their “littles” on homework and other school-related activities as directed by the teachers.
The role of the mentor is to provide individualized tutoring sessions within the context of a supportive relationship, Royal Oaks social worker Jill Kiltie said.
“The framework is the academic assistance, but the relationship that takes place during those interactions is what hits them the most,” she said. “It’s really a win-win situation – it’s the perfect combination.”
Currently RISE has a total of nine students in the program.
The ‘bigs’ and the ‘littles’
Teachers identify which students would benefit from RISE and then request parents enroll their children.
“The piece that teachers feel would make the biggest difference, for a variety of reasons, would be help,” Kiltie said. “There’s a variety of barriers that bring these kids to us.”
Both the “bigs” and the “littles” make a commitment to RISE for the entire year.
“We really look for a commitment,” Kiltie said. “The philosophy is to build a relationship – that’s the core piece.
“To have different kids would really defeat the purpose of having this one-to-one relationship.”
Kiltie said the fact that the “bigs” are all Teacher Cadet students is an added bonus to RISE since they have a much stronger commitment to the students.
“Their goal is to be a teacher,” she said. “They have a passion for reaching kids and they have a creative way of doing that.”
WHS junior Kaile Damm, who is one of the “bigs” with RISE, said she enjoys her time with the program.
“It’s really satisfactory when she understands something that we’ve been learning,” she said.
WHS senior Dan Proulx said he has enjoyed his time with RISE as well.
“Getting the experience with the younger children has been a lot of fun,” he said. “I can apply a lot of the skills I use here in the future.”
The aspect that sets RISE apart from other academic intervention program is the fact that the teachers are high school students, Kiltie said
“My elementary students look up to these kids,” she said. “They’re proud to be seen with these kids in the hallway.
“They respond to some of the guidance from the high school kids they might not have normally.”
Proulx said he believes that he and his fellow “bigs” can reach the elementary students more easily since they were sitting in the same seat not that long ago.
“We’re closer to their age,” he said. “I’m still in school, so I know how it feels to struggle with homework.”