Mentor program gives students a head start

Mentors and students work on a form outlining the students’ goals. Goals identified Tuesday include becoming a pilot, joining the military and playing in the NBA.

Originally printed in the Independent Town Pages. Written By Nathan Hansen – Editor

Hope for Tomorrow gets a group of eighth grade boys thinking about their future

Late Tuesday morning, a group of Rosemount Middle School eighth graders had their sights set firmly on the future.

With the help of their community mentors, the students, art of a new program called Hope for Tomorrow, talked about their hopes and dreams, and how best to go about achieving them. It was one of a series of monthly discussions students and mentors will have throughout the course of the year.

It was a community member who suggested the program to RMS administrators. Hope for Tomorrow has chapters that work with boys and girls, but assistant principal Eric Hansen said the school chose to focus on boys for its first year.

“We were interested in trying to capture good connections with eighth grade boys,” Hansen said.

Hope for Tomorrow focuses on students who have a strong potential for personal and academic growth, but who would benefit from some additional guidance. At RMS, principals and guidance counselors put together a list of 25 students they thought were good candidates, then had to narrow that list to fit the number of mentors they were able to recruit.

Students had to be willing participants, and parents had to give their approval. Students also have to be in good academic standing so the two hours of class they miss each month does not hurt their grades.

“These are kids that, they have good connections here at school, but we think with an additional opportunity they can benefit from it,” Hansen said.

The mentors, all of whom live or work in Rosemount, went through training. Meetings started in October, and they will continue through the end of the school year.

Each meeting starts with a large group discussion, then mentors and students break out to work one on one.

Volunteer Tom Luing, who oversees the program, calls it a mentoring program in a box because the school did not have to come up with its own curriculum. He said he’s enjoyed watching students dig into their goals and their dreams and start to figure out what they need to do to achieve them.

“They’re way ahead of where I was at their age,” he said.

Early sessions at RMS focused on getting students and mentors comfortable with each other. They played games and talked. Going forward, there will be more focus to the meetings. This week’s lessons were about hopes and dreams. Future sessions will feature information about college and careers. The students and mentors will take field trips to a college and to a corporate site.

Student Josh Weber said he has enjoyed the program. He was encouraged to join because he’s pulled into a shell following his father’s death. Hope for Tomorrow has forced him to be social, he said.

Hansen said he has been happy with the results so far.

“It’s nice to see something like this that has been fostered through the community to our school,” Hansen said. “That’s just been really nice.”