Dance teachers develop new mentor program


Joana Acosta

Students work on an assignment in Algebra II.

Jailyn Serrano

Mentors Matter ” is a new program that aims to connect students with teachers and administrators that they can talk to, relate to, and seek advice from. Any teacher can become a mentor and students can be assigned a mentor by reaching out Jessica Rose, Addrianne Stephens, or Amy Neely.

“There’s a lot of kids that don’t get to form close relationships with coaches or teachers because they’re not involved in something, such as an extracurricular,” assistant dance team director Addrianne Stephens said. “So this is a chance for those kids who don’t have that opportunity to form these relationships with core teachers.”

Dance team directors Mrs. Neely and Mrs. Stephens are both seeking their Masters in Educational Administration and the program is a part of their research on the impact of having a mentor on students’ lives. 

“We want mentors to be more like parental figures who can listen, give advice, help navigate goal setting and other things,” dance director Amy Neely said. “It’s nice to have someone in your corner and somebody who’s there to help you reach your goals.”

Right now, the program has 38 volunteer mentors from teachers, coaches, and administrators. 

“I think it’s extremely important to have a program like this at our school because it gives students a contact and an adult that they can reach out to for help,” criminal justice teacher and mentor Kina Vinson said. “It also allows teachers to get to know a student on a different level.”

Mentors and mentees meet every two weeks with a slightly guided conversation structure that weaves in “7 Mindsets” in a more personalized way. 

“It’s not a clear cut-and-paste curriculum because every kid and every teacher are so different,” Mrs. Neely said. “We want the relationship to be authentic and those are only built with an individualized plan.”

Mentors are not another disciplinary force in their mentees’ lives. Instead, they are advocates and role models for students who may be struggling. 

“My mentor, Mrs. Neely, helped me get my life back on track,” sophomore Ellie Hall said. “I went through a phase of not doing anything, but she’s just been there to support me and make sure I get my stuff done.”

By next school year, Mrs. Neely and Mrs. Stephens said they hope that every teacher will be a mentor.

 “I want every teacher to have a mentee,” Mrs. Neely said. “That’s what I hope for.  I want kids to feel more included in general and stop feeling like they don’t belong because that is a terrible feeling.”