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FDSH Students Get New Role as Montors - from The Messenger

November 18, 2022

When Corey Moody started looking to add to the number of mentors in the Fort Dodge Community School District, he discovered a previously untapped resource - high school students.

It's just a small number, but according to Moody it's a start. And the number of adults applying to be a mentor is also on the rise.

"I think using the high school kids is a great resource," said Moody, who coordinates the BRIDGES program for the district. "We are pairing them with Cooper students. That's a great connection because it's so close to the high school."

Right now, Moody is working with three high school students. Two of them have been paired with a student at Cooper Elementary School and the third is in the process of being paired. The students are seniors Ashlyn Headlee and Noah Stanley along with junior Carter Anderson.

Going into this school year, Moody was short quite a few mentors. The mentoring program has been around since 1994, but took a hit after the COVID pandemic.

Moody put a call out for mentors earlier this year and people have responded.

"We have 15 adults that have applied so we are working to place them," he said. "It takes a while. Mentors have to fill out an application and we have to do a background check. Then we have to find them a student and have them meet with that child and their family to make sure it's a good fit. We have to make sure everyone works well together so it takes time."

Moody said the high school students are also going through the same process to become a mentor as the adults. He hopes he can expand the number of students involved in the program.

"I had some free time and I wanted to be able to help someone out," said Headlee, who is paired with a fourth grader at Cooper. "I have a little brother and I felt I could make a difference with someone. I think pairing them with a high school student can help put things in perspective. They're going to be high school students someday and we understand their drama that they can go through."

Cooper Principal Kate Simpson said the program will definitely be beneficial to her students.

"I think that having our high school kids mentoring our elementary kids is such a helpful way to match our kids up with role models," she said. "We have so many older students who are exemplifying the habits and traits of the leaders we are trying to develop, and having them spend time with our younger students is a great example of how that leadership shows up as they get older, and I think for the older kids, they get the opportunity to feel the impact of being a positive person in a kids life."

Headlee has spent time playing basketball with her student and four-square with her and friends. She's planning a movie day as well.

"I think it'll be very beneficial. There are a lot of elementary kids who could benefit from this," Headlee added. "I think more high school students should do it. They can make a difference for a lot of kids."

One challenge Headlee will face is she's going to graduate in May and hopefully head to a four-year college. But she hopes she can at least remain in contact with her mentee after the school year is over.

"Mr. Moody talked with her parents when I started. They know I'll be leaving after high school, but hopefully we can stay in touch," she said.

Headlee is taking several online Iowa Central Community College classes this school year and will actually earn her associate degree in May as well as graduate high school. She is able to carve out free time from the school day to go to Cooper.

Anderson will hopefully stay with his second-grade student next year and hopes it goes beyond his graduation day.

"Being a familiar face for those students is a great thing," said Anderson. "Hopefully it's a relationship we can have for several years. I think that's the goal."

Anderson also encourages students to give mentoring a try, whether they are thinking about a career in education or not.

"If anyone has time, I would definitely recommend it," he said. "It's definitely opened my eyes to something else I may be interested in doing. It's definitely a benefit to me, too."

"The kids light up when they see their mentor coming down the hall, and they are really positive influences for them to connect with," Simpson added.

Any student at Senior High interested in mentoring can contact Moody in his office (86). Adults interested in mentoring can contact Mooday at the high school. His number is 515-574-5469 or email him at cmoody@fdschools.org.

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