The Powers School District harnesses the power of near-peer relationships for both students and parents, utilizing high school students as well as recent graduates/current college students and their parents to share advice and answer questions.
Powers' mentor program is an influential experience for both mentors and mentees. In 2011-12, three seniors and one sophomore from the high school were paired with one or two 7th grade students to serve as academic tutors and role models.
Mentors met with their groups once a week during lunch. Three weeks of every month the groups worked on school assignments, seeking support from each other and their mentor if needed. Lunch was provided the fourth week, with mentors leading their groups in games or other special activities.
“100% of our 7th graders participated in the mentor program,” said Ellen Baldwin, GEAR UP coordinator and the supervisor of the mentor program. “In doing exit interviews, EVERY one of them listed it as one of the best parts of our GEAR UP program.”
Another successful initiative involving near-peer relationships, Alumni Night was one of the most well-attended programs last year. Recent graduates from Powers High School who are now in college spoke to students in 7th-12th grades about the importance of choosing the right classes and succeeding in those classes in preparation for college.
In addition, the parents of the recent graduates spoke to the parents of the middle and high school students regarding what they wish they would have known about the college application and financial aid process.