How Do We Recruit, Screen, Train, Match and Support Success Mentors?
An essential ingredient of any success mentor program is investing time in the recruitment, screening, matching, training and support for the adults who will serve as success mentors.
Any caring adult willing to interact with their mentee at least three times a week for the entire school year could be a success mentor. These caring adults can be internal or external to the school. In New York City, internal success mentors included guidance counselors, school secretaries, security guards, social workers, teachers, principals, and afterschool leaders. One benefit of drawing upon internal success mentors is that they may already have permission to review student data, have passed background checks, are on the school campus, and are familiar with the school community. District captions can help schools find internal success mentors by creating an inventory, or map, of the community partners in each school.
When a school has a large number of chronically absent students, having sufficient numbers of mentors may require securing the support of external success mentors. These mentors can come from national service organizations such as AmeriCorps, City Year, Senior Corps, Foster Grandparent Program, or Experience Corps. Mentors can also be found among staff from community-based organizations or graduate school interns working in relevant departments at nearby universities.
Especially among older students, success mentor models have also drawn upon peers to serve as success mentors, such as training high school seniors to work with freshman. Elementary programs shouldn’t rely upon peers as the primary source of success mentoring, but a peer mentoring approach, particularly connected to meeting and greeting in the morning, could be developed as a complement to matching a child with an adult mentor. Among elementary aged children, an adult mentor is critical to reaching out to the family and also helping the student and family navigate and obtain needed supports and services.