Kids Helping Kids through Mentoring Program at John P. Parker Elementary School

Mentoring program is providing guidance, support, and encouragement for fifth and sixth graders.

Fifth and sixth grade students at John P. Parker Elementary visiting Central State University with their eleventh and twelfth-grade mentors.

Students (the elementary students are wearing blue and the high school mentors are wearing red) gathered near a bust of Paul Robeson while visiting the Central State University campus.

It’s hard to deny the remarkable difference mentoring can make in a young child’s life, especially when you consider the many challenges the average student has to navigate in their formative years. Through the Community Connectors mentoring program managed and directed by Activities Beyond the Classroom (ABC), the fifth and sixth-grade students at John P. Parker Elementary School have been able to experience the many benefits of mentorship, with far-reaching results. 

This groundbreaking grant program, which was launched by Governor John R. Kasich and the Ohio state legislature in 2014, is designed to encourage mentoring opportunities for students, with the primary goal of helping them get excited about their future. With the administrative help of ABC, the fifth and sixth graders at John P. Parker Elementary School are being paired with eleventh and twelfth-grade students at Shroder Paideia High School, creating mentoring relationships that have been shown to increase educational achievement and encourage civic engagement. With the help of their high school counterparts, the students of John P. Parker Elementary School are receiving powerful guidance, support and encouragement to set and achieve goals, build a sense of resiliency and carve out pathways to achievement. Below are some of the features and highlights of this life-changing program.

Highlights of the Mentoring Program

  • One of the main elements of the program is character building, which is emphasized through various activities such as goal setting, group reading assignments (a recent book chosen for the program was Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”), and decision-making techniques that are designed to instill confidence and build a greater sense of self-reliance.
  • The students participate in health and wellness activities where they learn about developing healthy eating habits, paying attention to their food choices, and understanding the importance of getting regular exercise.
  • A recent mentoring group had the opportunity to go on a college tour at Central State University, where they learned about the importance of getting good grades, as well as how it prepares them for their post-high school education.
  • Throughout their tenure in the mentoring group, students are taught the importance of reliance on what’s known as the “Seven C’s”: Completeness, conciseness, clarity, consideration, concreteness, correctness, and courtesy.
  • Students also complete a character assessment through the website, and as they make their way through the program, they can compare their past results with their current progress.
  • Service is a theme that is constantly emphasized in the program. The mentoring students recently participated in a food drive, and they have also started a gardening project at John P. Parker Elementary School in which they are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of an on-site pumpkin patch. One of the most remarkable aspects of the program is the fact that this emphasis on service is being demonstrated in both mentors and mentees. For example, the junior and senior students have committed to assisting the younger students by engaging in fundraising efforts, so the fifth and sixth graders can take a field trip that follows several key Underground Railroad sites from Kentucky to Canada.
  • The elementary students also receive mentorship twice a month from adult mentors. The mentor-mentee duos complete similar activities as mentioned above.

Postive Results Outside of the Classroom

Outstanding results are being reported by the teachers and parents of students in the mentoring program. Many families have reported seeing a difference in their child in terms of helping around the house, interacting with family and adopting a more positive outlook overall. With the type of difference this dynamic mentoring program is making in the local community, it’s easy to see why supporting Activities Beyond the Classroom is a smart move to make.