High school mentoring programme complete

As participants of the Coaching for Success programme, 30 high school students gathered last week with their adult mentors to celebrate the completion of six months of one-on-one guidance and personal development. Applauded by their peers, they accepted certificates from the Education Ministry’s Chief Officer Angela Martins.

Offering her congratulations and encouragement to the recipients as well as their teachers and adult coaches, Mrs. Martins expressed that she intends to also participate as a performance coach (mentor) in the new school term, states a GIS press release.

The John Gray year 11 students (who were also celebrating the ending of their penultimate high school year) were being lauded for their dedication to the coaching scheme. Once adult volunteers were signed up, two days of in-depth training were held in January, and each adult was matched with a student. Following that, the students and Performance Coaches met at the school once each week.

Mrs. Jessie Schmid, grandmother of Rayvon Rankine, attended his award luncheon. She said, ‘I’ve seen a lot of improvement since the programme started. Rayvon shows a lot more interest in school work now, and he is calmer, not as agitated as he was.’ As a special bonus, Rayvon, who is especially interested in information technology, will gain exposure while employed for the summer at the law firm where his mentor, Laura Hatfield, works.

Another student, Mark Lopez, reported that, when he was initially recommended he felt ‘quite reluctant.’ Now, he thanks his mentor – Mr. Tristan Kelly – for his time and effort. ‘I was failing biology, but with my coach’s assistance I passed the last test, and did quite well in the end-of-year test,’ he said. Explaining that he has few adult male role models, he added that his mother – a single parent – encouraged him to relate to the mentor from the start. ‘As a result, she was pleased when she saw my grades improving,’ he said proudly. He further noted that as a Cadet Corps member, he has seen spillover benefits in discipline in his performance with that group. The young man hopes to attend college, and he is also a keen footballer.

Congratulating all involved, Coaching for Success coordinator Nat King said, ‘This personal development initiative has been held at John Gray over the past three years. The ethos of the programme is to give students extra support through the training, through small and whole group meetings with teachers, and through mentoring with community volunteers to work towards achieving education goals set by each student.’

He added that the awards ceremony usually marks the end of the programme, but a number of the students, as well as coaches, want to resume their participation into the next academic year.

A young lawyer, Miss Dorothy Scott, said she was similarly pleased at the progress of her assigned student Niko McField. ‘His grades are improving and that’s something Niko can be proud of. This particular school year group was very much affected by Ivan, and I realize now that they faced more challenges than I did.’

Noting that the coaching project’s success comes from ‘the students solving their own issues pro-actively,’ Miss Scott said, ‘It’s not as important as you’d think to develop a personal relationship with the student; more important is motivating them to set goals for themselves.’ For that skill, she applauded the initial training sessions.

Encouraging other volunteers, she said, ‘You’d be surprised at the impact you can make. Not all students will go to ‘Straight A’s’, but most have tremendous talent and intelligence, and are simply not having their energies focused.’

This first-time mentor hopes to return to the programme next year, with Niko or another child. A former John Gray graduate, Miss Scott also spoke of her school pride. ‘There’s been a lot of publicity regarding negative incidents lately, but it is up to us to give a few hours each month to make a positive difference. I did this on my own time, and it’s perfectly possible for anyone to give one lunch hour each week for a few months.’

She added that Niko’s passion is football, and he wants to become a fireman. During the summer months he will be employed at a local utilities company. ‘He’s still finding his way, but at least he’s thinking about it,’ Miss Scott said.

For more information, or to volunteer as a student mentor, contact Mr. King at 925 6120.