Mentoring helps students succeed; mentors gain leadership experience


Mentor Max Gonzalez helps a student find a math program on the computer.

Rose, Contributor

La Serna’s mentoring program consists of student mentors and the teachers who create tutorials and class periods that are beneficial for struggling students who need help with specific subjects. One aspect of the program is specifically tailored around OASIS students.

OASIS is a program La Serna has for at-risk students, students who are marked for not receiving the necessary amount of credits to graduate after completing freshman year. The students work with teachers and mentors whose aim is to motivate them to keep them from dropping out of high school.

The La Serna School website has the following description of OASIS:  “Students and mentors in the classes are placed on teams. Each team has 4-6 students and 3-4 academic mentors. At the end of every week, students obtain progress reports from all of their teachers.” English teacher Ken Lavigne OASIS created Oasis and continues to direct the program.

A former OASIS mentee, Jastin Cheadle, spoke positively about the program. He said, “Mr. Lavigne is the best. OASIS is the best program, and next year I plan to mentor for it.” As a student with positive experiences, he said he enjoys giving back to the mentoring program.

Teachers are needed to support the La Serna mentoring programs as much as the students are. Ms. McGregor is a former OASIS teacher and currently a member of Horizons. Horizons is part of La Serna’s English language development program. Ms. McGregor is adviser of its club, Expanded Horizons, which introduces students to different cultures, and she teaches a tutorial class for ELD students struggling in math during the lunch period.

Ms. McGregor praised the mentoring program for the connection it creates socially between the students mentoring and being mentored. She elaborated, “There is a really tight relationship between mentees and mentors. Students grow as leaders, and mentees grow in the subject they are being tutored in, and it’s really nice to see.”

Not everyone stands in agreement with the benefits of the mentoring program. Some mentors within the program want change for the next year. Lucero Tamayo, a mentor for English ELD and Algebra 1, suggested, “[The mentoring program] should focus on getting students who actually want to help the other students. Some mentors don’t  do anything or help the students improve; they’re just there.” She believes that some people who sign up to mentor do it to brag on college resumes. This doesn’t end up helping the mentees when mentors have this motive, she explained.

Max Gonzalez, a mentor for Algebra I, claimed, “The school could provide more benefits for mentors, as well as introducing better communication between mentors and the school.” He said he wishes the school would provide more information about specific mentor events and perks, such as the Friday off campus lunch, which he was not aware of.

Most mentors this reporter talked to shared a positive common ground, but believe La Serna could improve the program with better communication, enrollment of mentors who honestly want to help, and more guidance on the teachers’ part.

Jonathan Contreras, a chemistry mentor,  stated, “What I like most about mentoring is that I get to help others develop and change. When they’re in need, I’m able to help them, and it gives me confidence. That’s the great part: feeling great about it.” Many mentors said they find that they are able to take pride in their work and in the relationships with the students they mentor.

Students are able to apply to become mentors for a vast selection of subjects, math through science, and even in history. The application gives a list of all subjects and teachers with tutorials and needing mentors. If any students have an  interest, applications can be received from Ms. McGregor in O-202. Students can also select a teacher to mentor for an entire class period, in a way similar to being a teacher’s assistant, but this is dependent on the teacher and class they wish to mentor for.

As mentors, students have the opportunity to make a difference in their mentees’ lives. Mentoring can enhance a college application, but, additionally, mentoring helps struggling students develop relationships with mentors which helps with academic success.  A strong bond can be developed when one person lends a hand to someone unable to achieve the means on their own.