The Power of Mentoring in our Schools

Jeromine Alpe

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By Jeromine Alpe

MondoMentor is committed to uncovering the difference between looking extraordinary and being extraordinary in our students because of psychological pressures to ‘be happy’. To harness the power of mentoring in schools to create trusted relationships where students learn that it is ok to show vulnerability in order to build resilience for greater futures.

What if we could transform student school communities, including regional Australia where isolation is a major factor to disengagement and low percentage of students going onto tertiary studies? What if we could create within the schools, vibrant knowledge sharing and mentoring communities? What if schools could harness the wisdom of a trusted community of mentors within the school and through the alumni network of ex-students willing to share their wisdom?

The power of mentorship programs in schools creates a strong sense of belonging, guidance, understanding and empathy. Access to school mentorship programs develops inclusive school communities by building learning environments outside the classroom.

This week the topic ‘The Power of Mentoring in Schools’ has led me to be interviewed by three radio stations around Australia. The timing follows both Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s government election commitment to invest $88 million to ensure every public high school has one full-time counsellor or psychologist and one student support officer, dedicated to students’ mental health and well-being. They follow recent HealthState NSW findings that over 20% of students aged between 12–17 suffer from psychological distress. The critical age being 16–17.

The factors leading to psychological distress in our students include feelings of unhappiness, sadness, depression, nervousness, stress and/or a feeling of being under pressure. Being reprimanded for bad behaviour is also a major factor.

Valuable mentoring programs in schools is not a new concept. MondoMentor’s extensive research, undertaken within the public and private school sector and industry associations, highlights high-touch programs are difficult to sustain, a challenge to scale and provide limited ability to make informed decisions. What’s needed is to be able to capture and analyse data and provide an organisational framework about the performance and benefits of the mentorship programs for the student mentees and the mentors. To then use that data analysis to design suitable programs and outreach activities that meet the specific needs of the students and the broader school community.

MondoMentor uses global technology to power high-touch and online mentorship programs within an exclusive, secure school mentoring platform portal. More than scheduling mentoring sessions, the platform provides an online school portal to share resources, offer special topic round-tables, undertake surveys and much more with API and SSO integration, creating safe, connected communities.

Through personal experience, the mentors create a safe space for the student mentee/s to connect with someone they trust, outside of the classroom. To feel safe to have conversations they may not be able to have with their teachers, friends, peers and family members.

Nominated from within the school community or school alumni, mentors are required to have a clearance to work with children under the age of 18. Whether mentoring one-on-one or one-on-many, at any one time, mentors role model three different mentor roles. The role of a coach, helping to define and develop specific skills to achieve specific goals. The role of a counsellor, available to listen and provide support, uncovering unique differences and personal strengths, celebrating when they achieve their personal best and advising. The role of an advisor to share their wisdom. A mentor is someone who is willing to share what they know with student/s they care about and for the student/s to learn what they need from people they trust.

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