LP schools seek more mentors
La PORTE — January marks national mentoring month and for La Porte Community Schools, school-based mentoring is on the rise.
LPCSC’s Slicer Champions program has really taken off since it’s inception in March 2016. The program offers one-on-one mentoring to La Porte students attending La Porte High School and Boston or Kesling Middle School.
Students in need of mentoring are referred to the school’s response to intervention program. Many of those referred are considered to be “at risk” students, who really need someone to listen to them.
The students and mentors come together each week for about 45 minutes. It is during this time when the mentor tries to build a relationship of support with the teenager in which they are assigned.
Mentors encourage their students to set goals toward their future, and prioritize academic achievement. Mentors help their students recognize their strengths and give them strategies for problem-solving challenges. Ideally, a mentor is there to help the student realize their own self-worth and build up their self-esteem.
According to the Slicer Champions program, youth with mentors are 52 percent less likely to skip school and 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs.
Mentors are recruited from the community. Although some mentors are retired, the majority of them are full-time employees. Cooperative employees in the community allow the mentors to allocate time off of the job to donate their time to mentoring each week.
The mentors undergo background checks and some additional pre-screening by staff.
“Our program staff orchestrates, in depth, mentoring orientation, and monthly training to track the program’s outcomes,” said Slicer Champions Match Specialist, Bert Sappenfield, explaining the selection process.
There are occasions where students are forced to leave the program, chief of which being graduation. Sometimes the team is forced to remove students from the program for misbehavior like excessive attendance issues.
Nevertheless, the program has been continuously expanding. The program currently has 43 active groups of students and mentors.
The program has grown significantly since the seed money was provided by American Licorice less than three years ago. The Slicer Champions have been able to take on a couple of extra staff members to help with the program and its recruitment process.
The program is largely run by Sappenfield, Program Specialist Administrator, Julie Sinclair and District Attendance Officer, Sarah Fine.
The team is always looking for new mentors for the program. Recruitment is ongoing. Those interested in becoming a mentor are encouraged to visit https://www.lpcsc.k12.in.us/mentoring/ and apply online.