At Fleetwood Area High School, students are taking steps to ensure future generations develop the skills they need to be successful in a school environment. Willow Creek Elementary School and FAHS have joined together to form a mentoring program uniting kindergarten students with high school students.
Willow Creek’s involvement in the mentoring program began right after its opening three years ago, and it has been in effect ever since. Colleen Berger, a kindergarten teacher at Willow Creek, decided to get her own class involved when the school opened.
“I wanted to get involved because of the many benefits that come with the program. These students seem to have a desire and are willing to make a commitment to be positive role models,” Berger said.
The program involves mainly eleventh and twelfth grade students from the high school. They focus on improving language arts skills such as letter recognition, sounds, rhyming, blending, and eventually reading, as well as some math skills such as counting and adding.
“I think the mentoring program is wonderful for both my students and the high school students,” Berger said. “My kindergarteners love to see their mentors, and the high school students get a taste of what it would be like to work with five- and six-year-olds and the challenges that come with that. I believe it gives both age groups self-confidence.”
Senior Margariete Malenda is one of the student leaders of the mentoring program this year. She has been involved with the program since her freshman year, when she began to see teaching as a potential career path.
“There is a great group of mentors this year, they are very enthusiastic. They show potential to be leaders for next year’s program,” said Malenda. “The program changes every year due to the number of elementary students and the cooperation of the mentors and teacher.”
The mentoring program provides the kindergarten students with extra help by having an older student with whom to communicate. The benefits are immeasurable for both Berger’s kindergarten class and the participating students of FAHS.