C.I.R.C.L.E. mentors get training
High school students from Fulda, Round Lake-Brewster and District 518 schools joined together to learn effective mentoring strategies this week, in preparation for a week at day camp and a school year full of activities with their elementary-age ...
High school students from Fulda, Round Lake-Brewster and District 518 schools joined together to learn effective mentoring strategies this week, in preparation for a week at day camp and a school year full of activities with their elementary-age mentees.
Students from Fulda are participating for the first time this year in the C.I.R.C.L.E. (Children Increasing Resiliency, Courage, Laughter and Empathy) mentoring program. They join Round Lake-Brewster in its fourth year of the program and District 518 in its 10th year.
The week of training prepares mentors for becoming counselors at a week-long day camp where they meet and match up with elementary student mentees who need a little extra guidance and support from adults in their lives.
During the school year, the mentors chat with their mentees once a week and spend time with them at least once a month, all outside school hours. Often mentors spend much more time with their young mentees than they're required to.
"I think it gives them somebody outside the family that they can turn to and spend time with," said Carrie Adams, Youth Initiatives Coordinator with the Nobles County Integration Collaborative. "Hopefully, it gives them someone to look up to."
Nineteen high school juniors and seniors signed up for the 15 hours of training required for mentors. This year, 24 students -- mostly third- through fifth-graders -- signed up to become mentees.
"I like little kids," said Lucia Luna of Fulda, one of the mentors new to the program this year. "Our counselor came to one of our classes and told us about (C.I.R.C.L.E.). It seemed like a cool, interesting thing for the summer."
Every year in the spring, school counselors ask teachers what students might benefit from mentoring. If the students' families agree, he or she is enrolled in the program.
Counselors also visit the high schools and invite interested students to become mentors. Usually more girls volunteer for the task than boys.
The C.I.R.C.L.E. mentoring program is based around four core Native American values symbolized by the quartered circle on C.I.R.C.L.E. T-shirts, binders and papers -- generosity, belonging, mastery and independence.
During training, the mentors-to-be learn to stay positive with their mentees, emphasizing the importance of academics and social skills.
Mentors also find out how to work with children with attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities or difficult family lives. Family Services representatives visit during training to talk about how they work with families.
"All kids can benefit from a mentor," Adams declared. "Their parents really want that extra support for them."
High school students, meanwhile, learn how to value responsibility, Adams said, when they stay committed to the kids and learn how important it is to them. In questionable situations, mentors learn to think "How would I explain this decision to my mentee?"
Some of the high-schoolers want to become social workers or teachers. Others want to put mentoring on their college applications or resumes. Some of the mentors want to learn.
"Many opportunities come from it," said Yuri Arauz, who will be a senior at Worthington High School in the fall. "You learn from spending time with someone else."
Many of the high-schoolers just enjoy spending time with children.
"I like kids. I really like working with kids," said Amanda Bierma of Fulda. "... I'm excited for camp, when I'll get to meet the kids."