Students Mentoring Students

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Phi Theta Kappa supports middle school students with mentoring program

by Chantele Fox, News Editor

Each year, chapters of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society complete what is known as an Honors in Action project. The specific purpose of this project is to provide members with an opportunity for growth and development of leadership skills as well as engaging with the community, both on campus and in the surrounding area. It is through the Honors in Action project that members facilitate a plan of action to meet real world needs and develop more action-orientated and concrete problem-solving skills while researching a targeted Honor Study topic.

During the Fall 2018 semester, the Omicron Iota chapter of Phi Theta Kappa completed their Honors in Action project, employing focus on the loss of interpersonal connections in middle school students. Further, they were determined to research how this contributed to increased school violence, more specifically school shootings. Through conducting extensive and collaborative research, the team categorized the data collected into three specific components: mental/emotional factors, environmental factors and individual characteristics. Each of these components consists of difference factors. For instance, environmental contributors refer to the relationships between a child and their parents and/or caregivers, socioeconomic status or learning environment. On the other hand, mental/emotional factors refer to how a child processes and encompasses their emotions.

Upon completion of their research, Omicron Iota concluded that the re-establishment of lost interpersonal connections during the middle school period could lead to the reduction of school violence and reduce opportunity for school shootings. Subsequently, the chapter established the Students Mentoring Students (SMS) program during the Fall 2018 semester as the action portion of their Honors in Action project.

“The mission of this program is to provide helping hands to middle school students throughout our community,” says Steffanie Hills, President of the Omicron Iota chapter. “We encourage, inspire and motivate students by giving them a mentor, academic support and tutoring and a reliable relationship. We do this with the hope of reducing school violence, re-establishing lost connections and improving academic performance.”

Currently, the Students Mentoring Students program has partnered with three local middle schools: Emerson Middle School, Frost Middle School and Stevenson Middle School. Staff who coordinate with the mentors are very hopeful of future impact. “I am optimistic about having this program at Emerson because I observe the impact firsthand,” says Mary Allison, Title 1 staff at Emerson Middle School. “Middle school students want to look good to their peers and are often hesitant to raise their hand for help. When a ‘college kid’ just sits down next to them, they are more open to accepting instruction and encouragement.”

Furthermore, the success and growth of this program relies deeply on mentor participation as additional schools, such as the Garden City middle schools, are already requesting mentorship support for their students.

“Recruitment of mentors is very crucial in order for the program to succeed and anyone can help by volunteering their time to help mentor the middle school students,” states Drake LaForge, Vice President of Omicron Iota regarding future growth and success of the program.

Becoming a mentor is open to all students, faculty and staff, alumni and members of the community. Students should hold a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, in addition to having earned a 3.0 or higher in all Math, Science and English courses. Individuals who are interested in becoming a mentor will need to complete an application as well as a background check. The duration of this process can take up to a few weeks for approval. It is recommended that students interested to apply as soon as possible.

If interested in obtaining a mentorship position, please contact Steffanie Hills at 734-560-5944 or via at steffaniehills.ptk@gmail.com for additional information.

Phi Theta Kappa members who volunteer as a mentor will earn stars toward achieving their par-excellence membership, a letter of recommendation and hours may be applied toward volunteer hours required. Mentors will gain a sense of personal satisfaction knowing they are participating in a program of impact in the lives of young adults.

“Our children are facing more and more pressures,” Allison stated. “The complex world often seems unnavigable to them. I hope members of the Schoolcraft Community will reflect about someone who made a positive difference in their lives. They can be that difference for a struggling middle school kid.”