Mentoring a proven success
“With community involvement, we will empower learners to become contributing members in our changing world.” This is the mission statement of the Cherokee Community School District. The addition of an exciting new mentoring program at Cherokee Middle School has created new pathways to achieve this goal.
Cherokee Middle School Principal, Scot Aden, played an integral role getting the program implemented. He knew it would be an asset for CMS students because research has shown students with positive adult connections perform better in school.
There are currently 32 mentors involved, and the program has already had an incredible impact. Students in the program have shown a 16% decrease in absences and a 13% increase in grade point average, as well as many positive social and emotional changes.
Mentors are asked to commit one hour per week during the school day during the months school is in session. A one school year commitment is requested with the goal of mentor and mentee continuing to meet as long as the student is at CMS. Students and adults in the mentoring program do a variety of activities including playing board and card games, Wii games, ping pong, air hockey, arts and crafts, baking, and many others.
When asked about the reach of the program Aden stated, “The most gratifying part of the program is seeing the change in our students, the smiles, the laughter, and seeing the connections being made with our community. Students and adults look forward to their time together and have truly built a special bond with one another.”
CMS teachers are also seeing the benefits. Julie Hummel, veteran CMS teacher stated, “I can see a difference in the students. We always strive to do what’s best for students, and it’s wonderful Scot Aden was able to create another way to positively influence these kids. We are proud of his hard work, and we are proud to have him as our principal at Cherokee Middle School.”
With the success of the program, Aden and Melinda Hammen, a School-Based Youth Services Worker from the Seasons Center for Behavioral Health, were asked to present the CMS program at the IAEA (Iowa Alternative Education Agency) Conference in Des Moines in April. The IAEA presented Hammen and Aden with a $500 grant for the mentoring program. Several schools have already been in contact with Aden hoping to include similar programs in their schools.
As a final note, Aden added, “In my 27 years of education this has been the most impactful program that I have had to privilege to be apart of in a school setting. It has been really great to see our community step up and help with this program. I truly believe the adult volunteers get as much out of this experience as our students do. We will be needing more community members next school year. If interested please contact Cherokee Middle School at 712-225-6750 and talk to Brenda Haack, our School Counselor.”
The staff and students at CMS are incredibly grateful for the support of the administration, teachers, and community. This program operates solely on the dedication and passion of these individuals and groups. Braves Mentoring looks forward to finishing the year strong and continuing for many years to come.