Mentoring can often assist students in their work and enhance their educational experience in general.
This was the message coming from Stuart High School as they hosted a community information session about a Local Community School Mentoring Program being established to assist students.
Eyre Futures Mentoring EP Coordinator Faye Davis visited Whyalla with mentor John Hunwick to host the event, which was well-attended by young and old.
Mr Hunwick said the program is an opportunity for people to bring students a new perspective in dealing with life issues.
“Kids at school can be constrained by teachers and the need to do tests, but sometimes there is a need for somebody who is concerned about their wellbeing rather than their progress,” he said.
“Students can feel that they can ask questions or interact in a way that is informal and without fear in terms of what school sometimes generates for some kids.”
“It’s not easy to immediately spot the benefits of mentoring in students, but what happens is that kids start to think of their life beyond school – there is a purpose to learning.”
Mr Hunwick said students are often able to make the connection between what the mentor values and what they are learning in school.
“Something like football is not end in itself, you need to do the spelling, writing and reading as well, you can’t be a footballer without some of these skills,” he said.
“Sometimes kids in school they get mesmerised by the end result and seem to underplay the importance of learning.”
During time with a mentor, students are encouraged to talk to them about their interests, which often gives them confidence in what they are pursing through school.
Dave Mills, who is one of several training to become a mentor, believes mentoring can also benefit students’ mental health.
“You can see the challenges that kids go through these days with bullying, and all that impacts on mental health,” he said.
“If you can help someone out with that and point them in the right direction it’s fantastic – I’ve lived with mental illness most of my life, so I know how people feel when they’re suffering like that.”
Stuart High Principal Jeanette Conroy was excited about the mentor program.
“For the students to be able to talk to someone about their goals, aspirations, and expand beyond what they already know I think is a good program for us to have,” she said.
“This program came about in part from a resilience survey that we did at the start of the year, our students didn’t feel safe in their community.”
“We’ll be looking to see if self-esteem and resilience in students has increased.”