The Peer Mentor Program Coordinator
The Peer Mentor Program Coordinator holds the key to the successful implementation of the Peer Mentor Program. Ideally, with a teaching background, the Program Coordinator will be allocated sufficient time to plan and prepare for the smooth-running of the Peer Mentor Program.
Where the Peer Mentor Program is successfully implemented, the potential spin-off to the local and wider community, in terms of the positive attitudes of teachers, administrators and students, will be huge.
The Peer Mentor Program will be most effective where schools commit themselves to participate for five years. During this time the spirit of mentoring will positively infiltrate all areas of the students’ lives, having a considerably greater impact if the school also embraces a Teacher-Mentor program. There is growing research pointing to the value of such programs for the Generation Y and emerging Generation Z students if we wants to see them reach their potential.
Program Coordinators are also encouraged to embrace the idea that they are sowing the seeds of the spirit of mentoring in the lives of their students. Thus they will come to appreciate the findings of research around youth mentoring, which tends to suggest that a mentoring program alone cannot and is not expected to change students’ lives, nor will mentoring ever be equipped to address the needs of all youths.
The role of the Program Coordinator
Peer Mentors should appreciate that they are being asked to make a commitment for a given period of time, which should not exceed one calendar year.
In addition to some of the key mentoring skills expected of a Peer Mentor, the Program Coordinator should be:
- Familiar with all aspects of the Peer Mentor Program
- Passionate about working with young people
- Able to manage time skilfully
- A good organiser
- Flexible and able to use initiative with regard to the implementation and smooth running of the program
- A skilled administrator
- A good team player
- A pro-active member of the school community
- Willing to make additional time for Peer Mentors who might be experiencing difficulties during the Peer Mentor Program
- Blessed with a great sense of humour and a genuine desire to make the program a fun, yet challenging experience for all participants
- A great communicator.
Some key tasks of the Program Coordinator and support teachers would include:
- Making sure all Peer Mentors complete and sign the Peer Mentor’s Contract before they are linked to a Peer Mentor group
- Meeting with the Peer Mentors weekly to discuss progress of the Peer Mentor Program
- Making sure the Peer Mentors are suitably prepared for each session (where applicable)
- Moving around and visiting venues where Peer Mentor groups are meeting, not only to keep an eye on the implementation of the program, but also being seen as encouragement to the Peer Mentors and their groups (where applicable)
- Photocopying, distributing and collecting resource material for each session (where applicable)
- Making sure that Peer Mentors and Mentees complete and hand in the Peer Mentor Program Evaluation Form as and when required
- Responsibility for ensuring a fair and thorough policy is in place for the selection of the Peer Mentors and the formation of Mentee groups (either single sex or co-educational groups, always reflecting a variety of cultures). Members of School Management and the Peer Mentors’ and Mentees’ teachers need to be consulted and briefed throughout the program
- Organising to have a noticeboard set aside in the school staff room, which should be regularly updated with information on the Peer Mentor Program e.g. what each session will be covering (where applicable)
- Regularly reporting to a member of the School Management Team. Support from all members of Management is critical to the success of the Peer Mentor Program
- Regularly liaising with a team of teachers responsible for the successful implementation of the Peer Mentor Program. Teachers can assist with Peer Mentor training, as well as keeping an eye on the functioning of the Peer Mentor groups. This is not an onerous task and will promote a spirit of mentoring throughout the school community
- Organising Peer Mentor training workshops before the Peer Mentor Program begins
- Liaising with Peer Mentors on a weekly basis, being pro-active by removing disruptive or uncooperative students from the peer group at the earliest sign of misconduct, only allowing the student to return if and when they genuinely indicate a change of attitude
- Developing a school Peer Mentor Program Graduation Certificate for Peer Mentors and Mentees(i.e. two certificates) to be presented to all participants at the end of the Peer Mentor Program or at a time decided upon by the school. A celebratory event, including parents, would be a positive way to build community spirit and acknowledge students as valuable resources within their community.