Volunteers being sought for mentorship programme
November 30, 2012

Volunteers being sought for mentorship programme

by Bria King Fri, Nov 30, 2012

Despite achieving only limited success during its first year of operation, efforts are being made to revive the Girls’ High School Mentorship Programme, which was started in the wake of last year’s centenary celebrations.{{more}}

As part of the effort, December has been declared “Mentor – Mentee Month” and past students are being called upon to volunteer as mentors.

The mentorship programme is designed to keep the young girls focused on their academic career, guide them through challenges they may face in the difficult teen years and assist them in making the most of their time at the institution.

The mentorship programme was launched after past students said their time at the all-girls institution would have been much more fulfilling, had they had mentors to assist them in navigating the “turbulent waters” of secondary school.

Headmistress of the Girls’ High School Andrea Bowman, said that although the programme started with energy and vigour, it requires a follow-up and follow through.

“A number of the mentors have not been able to maintain the contact with the mentees that is necessary for the whole mentorship program to be worthwhile,” the Headmistress said.

The Headmistress estimates that since the start of the programme in September 2011, only about 60 per cent of the students in the intake of that year, have found the programme to be very rewarding and enjoy the privilege of having a mentor.

Khadeja Edwards, present second former, is, however, one of the lucky ones, and says that the programme has been very good for her.

“I see my mentor twice a week…like everyday,” the preteen said.

According to the mentorship guidelines, mentors should see their mentees at least once per month; however, visits can be paid more frequently.

Edwards gave her mentor glowing reviews, stating that her mentor helps her with homework, spends time with her by going to lunch and has already planned their mentor – mentee outing for December.

Although there have been positive results, an ambitious venture such as this one is not without difficulties.

Carleen Marshall, newly appointed mentorship manager, outlined the major problem to be a breakdown in communication between mentors and mentees.

“There were a lot of children who …, for one reason or another, had never met their mentors or who had never been assigned mentors at all,” Marshall said.

The manager also stated that some mentors were unable to fulfill their roles due to work schedules and other reasons beyond their control.

Brittany Harry and Tira James are two students who told SEARCHLIGHT that the mentorship programme did not work as well for them as it did for others.

“She doesn’t come like other mentors … come to the school and visit their mentees,” Harry firmly said about her assigned mentor.

Harry, a Campden Park resident, boldly expressed that she gained nothing from being a part of the programme, because she rarely saw her mentor.

James, whose disappointment was also obvious, said she only saw her mentor twice.

She expressed disappointment in the fact that she invited her mentor to the school’s “Wonders of Christmas” show, but her mentor never showed up.

“She never called me and she doesn’t come look for me,” James said.

Despite these experiences, both students are willing to give the programme another try, but with different mentors.

Bowman stated that as a result of what she considers a poor success rate, the programme was not implemented for the new first formers, as measures must first be taken to fix the problems that occurred.

While there have been mishaps in the programme, the successes seem to shine through, as some parents of the new first formers have been requesting that their child be mentored.

The school has made exceptions for these students, and has allowed them to become enrolled in the programme.

“The main fact that the parent has gone out of their way to ask, I see some urgency there,” Bowman said.

Bowman explained that the opportunity to become a mentor is exclusive to past students of the GHS and this is because these individuals understand the culture of the school and the demands and challenges that would be faced in the academic years.

Marshall also highlighted that mentors should not be below the age of 21, and are interviewed to determine their suitability. Bowman too said care is taken in ensuring that the mentors chosen are suitable role models.

Marshall is requesting that persons come forward and volunteer to be mentors. As a mentor herself, she describes the experience as a fulfilling one.

“I find it very rewarding, because I have a chance to impact meaningfully in the life of a child,” she said.

Alumnae in the diaspora also have the opportunity to make a difference, as online mentoring is a feature in the programme.

Persons interested in signing up to be a mentor may contact Carleen Marshall at 457-1502 or m_carleen@hotmail.com. The school may also be contacted at svghs@hotmail.com.