Two Decades of School Based Mentoring - a new narrative in a post-pandemic world?

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Lessons Learned: Two Decades of School-based Mentoring

By Dr. Susan G. Weinberger—President, Mentor Consulting Group

(A summary of the keynote address delivered to a School-based Mentoring Conference in Kansas City, Missouri)

  • Youth in classrooms experience negative feelings about themselves, poor relationships with family members, poor grades, hanging out with the wrong crowd, loneliness, isolation, lack of moral development, peer pressure, substance abuse, depression, obesity, lack of positive role models and bullying.
  • Labelling youth “at-risk” labels them in the media and for life. Call mentees’ youth “at the brink of success.”
  • Schools need to be equal partners with mentoring programs, providing financial support, space, telephones, materials and flexible scheduling.
  • Superintendent of schools and members of the Board of Education must give written approval in a public session to endorse and begin a program.
  • Kids in school needing mentors are not just from one parent families, poor and minorities; they are also from two parents, upper middle class families where there are neglects; they are rich and majority youth.
  • In order for a school-based program to succeed, schools selected must have an outstanding educational leader as the school principal, a cohesive staff and a friendly secretary.
  • Teachers must learn about the mentoring program BEFORE the public in order to feel empowered to deliver the program.
  • Get parents, PTO, school unions, the community and clergy on board at the very onset of the effort. Clergy needs to pray for our youth and help to recruit parishioners as mentors.
  • School-based mentoring coined the phrase “mentee”.
  • Case manager is a threatening name in schools. School liaison is a good name to use in schools.
  • The best way to identify youth for a program is to ask teachers for recommendations.
  • Teachers, guidance counselors and social workers are a team with the principal to give final approval of youth to be in the program.
  • Parents must sign a written consent form that is in the first language of the home.
  • On-going support is critical. Each school identifies its school liaison (Guidance counselor, social worker, aide, Vice-Principal or teacher).
  • Mentors who are offered support and supervision are more likely to persist than those not contacted regularly.
  • Constant communication with mentors includes brown bag lunches, notes from teachers, telephone calls, parent-teacher-mentor conferences, birthday cards to mentors and notes of appreciation.
  • Cross gender and cross ethnic matches are very successful.
  • Schools that believe in mentoring offer one parking space reserved for the mentor of the month; have a mailbox in the main office for mentors and invite mentors to meet with teachers regularly.
  • Mentoring is not a dumping ground for discipline problem children or special education needs.
  • Mentors who give gifts to youth cause many problems for teachers and other youth.
  • Recognition events for mentors include the principal, secretary, liaison and teacher of the year.
  • Teachers and administrators can sign up to be mentors.
  • College and High school youth make great peer mentors for middle and elementary students.
  • Confidentiality at all times must be maintained and is critical in small towns.
  • Mentors who say they will be there for a kid and are “no shows” should be counselled out. When mentors FAX[text] youth to say they are unable to make a session, the kids love the fax [personal message].
  • The FAMILY can become involved in mentoring.
  • Mentoring should begin at any point in the continuum but the pairs should stay together whenever possible through high school graduation.
  • Social workers tell us their case loads have been reduced and nurses say that youth who used to visit them regularly do not anymore because they have mentors.
  • Parents, teachers, mentors and mentees all benefit from mentoring. Mentoring WORKS!

2007 Mentor Consulting Group –

Additional note:

These findings guided the setting up the GR8 Mates school-based mentoring program which I ran a trial of in three mixed socio-economic communities in Australia. The programs were a huge success and had similar outcomes to those mentioned above. Serious consideration should be give by educators throughout the world to setting up school-based mentoring programs in our post-pandemic global community to guide youth through the challenges they face as a result of the impact of this pandemic on their lives. It will also provide a great opportunity for visionary educators to train peer mentors, run peer support programs and introduce a Vertical Tutoring System in High Schools – proven life transforming initiatives.



Mentoring Minutes: Weekly Messages to Encourage Anyone Guiding Youth

This is an ideal book to support and encourage any mentors involved in school-based mentoring programs. The book – also available on Amazon and Kindle – aims to encourage and equip people working with youth with the knowledge, strategies, ideas, and recent youth research to build meaningful and developmental relationships with these young people. There are five daily messages for fifty-two weeks of the year which cover topics like: understanding the world of youth, self-image, the impact of technology on youth, resiliency, goal setting, effective communication, values, how to resolve conflicts using a positive mindset, the role of family and other networks in the lives of youth, and the power of mentoring. True stories of mentoring experiences of the author and others are included, along with short daily tips to promote the spirit of mentoring, and weekly quotes to inspire the reader. The hundreds of strategies and tips are arranged into general themes focused on the development of the whole person. This user-friendly book will be an encouragement to schools, youth workers, mentors, parents, grandparents, employers of young people, indeed, anyone who wishes to see young people fulfill their potential. Dr Susan Weinberger kindly wrote the foreword to the book.

“Mentoring Minutes in some respects has become an almost self-help book for mentors. In this regard, it is a unique and revolutionary approach.”

– Dr. Susan Weinberger