MENTORING PROGRAM FAQ:
A GUIDE FOR THE CLASS OF 2021
Over the past few years, we at UHS have worked together to develop a ground-breaking mentoring program that will meld together academic advising and co-curricular elements, designed to prepare our UHS grads to stand resilient and self-sufficient in the face of the challenges of both adolescence and the the world beyond high school. Please read on for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about how this program came to be, as well as what it will involve for the students and faculty at University High School.
WHAT IS THE MENTORING PROGRAM?
As a school, we've come to recognize that in order to help our students more fully realize their potential, they need guidance in how to integrate the layers of learning that they experience on a daily basis. From lessons about how the world works on a molecular and conceptual level, to how to be an integral member of a community, to the unique ways in which they approaching learning, our students are steeped in an exciting world of discovery. Our teachers have done a masterful job opening up this world in the classroom, and it's now time for us to provide that same guidance with the lessons they're exposed to outside of the classroom. Our extensive research about adolescent development and cognitive neuroscience reveals that the role of relationship and emotion are critical in the process of learning. The unparalleled academic experience at UHS is led by excellent teachers, who make their subject matter come alive through their enthusiasm for the material, as well as their commitment to awakening a similar excitement in their students. By giving more time to a select group of these teachers, who will also serve as mentors, we aim to further optimize what our faculty teach our students about living a "life of integrity, inquiry, and purpose larger than the self."
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MENTORING AND ADVISING?
In deciding on a name for the Mentoring Progam, we felt that the etymology of the word "mentor" conveyed an important distinction between this program and previous advising system. When Ulysses is heading to war in Homer's Odyssey, he entrusts his son to his dear friend, Mentor, who is charged with providing guidance to Telemachus while Ulysses was away. While we are certainly not intending to replace you as parents, we do hope that you will see your child's mentor as the adult who is entrusted with the care and guidance of your child while he or she is at school. This mentor will be in frequent communication with you about what he/she is seeing at school and will be soliciting your feedback about your child's progress, as well. Mentors will interact with your child throughout the day and week in individual, as well as group, settings. Based on these interactions, the mentor will help you and your child make sense of his/her experience by taking time to reflect and plan appropriately for the opportunities and challenges inherent to being at teenager at a school like ours.
WHAT IS THE MENTOR'S CONNECTION TO PARENTS/GUARDIANS?
Mentors will be in regular communication with parents and guardians to share observations and to solicit feedback about what you are noticing at home. We hope that you will use your child's mentor as your "go-to" person for all your questions and concerns. This mentor will work with you to address concerns and together you will determine the best way forward, which may involve including teachers or other specialists at school.
HOW WILL MENTORS BE TRAINED AND SUPERVISED?
All mentors participate in a substantial training program during the summer months and will take part in specialized training throughout the year. Mentors are supported by a mentor coach who has extensive student support and teaching experience. This coach will work with mentors individually and as a group to ensure a high-quality experience for each ninth grader. We will collect feedback from students about their mentor, just like we do in the classroom.
HOW WILL MENTORS BE ASSIGNED TO STUDENTS?
The Dean of Students and the Director of Admission will read all family and student questionnaires that you completed at New Families Saturday, as well as the admission file, to determine the specific needs of each student. Based on these needs, we match students with a mentor who we think will be a good fit.
HOW WILL YOU MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF THIS PROGRAM?
We are excited to be working with researchers from Stanford, Boston University, and an educational research firm, West Ed, to assess, measure, and shape the impact of this program. We will use the data and feedback that we are gathering to influence our practice and to help us make decisions about program design for the sophomores, juniors, and seniors. We will also solicit feedback from families throughout the year.
IF I HAVE QUESTIONS, WHO SHOULD I CONTACT?
Please contact Acting Dean of Students Shoba Farrell if you have further questions or concerns about this program. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.