MentorThis page is by no means all-inclusive. The purpose for providing this page is to allow you to be selective and to target your students’ particular needs. PREPS is pleased to provide it as a guide for mentors in the MS Literacy Based Promotion Act. Combined with ongoing training, this page will aid in providing structure, activities, and open communication that will result in successful mentoring programs around the state of Mississippi. This program WILL be successful because of the teamwork and cooperation of individuals and their communities working together through a unique, public-private partnership of private citizens, state government, business, school systems, social service agencies, and civic and religious organizations.

Please keep in mind that every mentored student is a unique individual and every mentoring relationship is a unique relationship. The two most important things mentors can do for their students are to listen to them and to encourage them to succeed.

Building a Strong Foundation

The U.S. Department of Education has identified the following Core Competencies for Mentors

Core Competencies for Mentors

  • Understanding of program’s goals
  • Honoring commitments
  • The mentor’s role
  • The match life cycle
  • Mandatory reporting
  • Understanding program staff roles

These goals will be briefly discussed as adapted from “Ongoing Training for Mentors.”

1. Understanding of Program’s Goals

Mentors need a clear understanding of what the program hopes to achieve and how it hopes mentors will help accomplish the goals. Each community will have specific goals and processes. The local mentor liaison can discuss the goals of the program in each community.

Older Mentors2. Honoring Commitments

The primary task of a mentor is to meet regularly with their student(s).  Commitment involves both time and being committed to maintaining the relationship with your student. The mentor – whether an adult or an older peer – will often have to lead conversations, set boundaries, and stick with the mentee when progress is slow.

3. The Mentor’s Role (adapted from “Designing and Customizing Mentor Training”)

  • A mentor is a caring guide, a wise advisor, a partner on a journey, a trusted friend.
  • A mentor can serve as a mirror for the youth. They can show youth who they are and all they can become.
  • A mentor is one who can help the youth feel comfortable in their own skin and appreciate their gifts while at the same time exposing them to new opportunities and modes of thinking.
  • Mentors are not perfect and do not always know exactly what to say, but they are able to form a strong connection with their mentee(s).  This connection can serve as a catalyst for positive change and growth.

During the first meeting between mentor and mentee, the new mentor should:

  • Get to know the mentee by talking about shared interests
  • Create agreements about when, where and how often you will meet, how to contact each other, and what to do if someone cannot make the meeting (see attached form)
  • Talk with the mentee about your role in the relationship
  • Have the mentee tell you what he/she expects of you and hopes for an outcome

Above all, mentors should remember that they can be a friend to the mentee. Mentors are NOT a parent, authority figure, or teacher. And remember, HAVE FUN!

4. Using Students as Mentors

There are benefits for both older student mentors and the students they mentor. Listed below are some benefits of using student mentors (adapted from the “Readers are Leaders program”).

Student Mentors

Benefits for older students:

  • Helps develop confidence
  • Provides an opportunity to develop read-aloud skills
  • Gets the mentor student to THINK about books: what types the mentee might enjoy, what books they can share together
  • Gives the mentor a sense of responsibility
  • Helps develop a sense of rapport with teachers
  • Allows mentor to become a part of a small reading community

Benefits for the younger students:

  • Develops a sense of security and trust with an older student
  • Creates a desire to please the older student by performing well
  • Works toward the goal of someday becoming a mentor to a student
  • Provides practice reading both fun and interesting material
  • Allows mentee to become a part of a small reading community

5. The Match Life Cycle

Sometimes, for no apparent reason, problems may arise with a mentee. The mentee may start missing meetings or acting out during sessions. This may be a natural “testing’ behavior in which they are trying to test the mentor’s commitment. This can be a discouraging time for mentors. Having a time to discuss problems AND successes with other mentors is quite helpful.

6. Mandatory Reporting/Tracking Progress

The mentor program should have a procedure for tracking student progress. This process may differ in communities or schools. Simple suggestions can be found in this document.  Additionally, if child abuse or neglect is suspected, it is the mentee’s duty to report his/her suspicions.

7. Understanding of Program Staff/Liaison Roles

Mentors should know that program staff or the program liaisons are expected to:

  • Monitor the mentor-mentee match by checking in with mentors and mentees at least once a month
  • Provide resources and referrals for services that the mentee or family needs
  • Troubleshoot the match and provide general support to the mentor
  • Provide training opportunities for mentors
  • Complete associated paperwork and evaluation requirements
  • Act as an emergency contact person for the mentor-mentee match