Peer mentoring connects students to role models

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I head to Fredericksburg Elementary School every Thursday to see my buddy, Kane.

Kane Branum is a fourth-grade student who is one of several in the Fredericksburg Academic Boosters’ peer mentoring program.

We spend an hour each Thursday playing games, mostly quitting and starting new ones, talking and getting to know each other.

A typical day of mentoring involves, at least for the two of us, lots of questions (from me), not a lot of answers (from him), an attempt at playing a game I don’t understand and eventually starting a Monopoly game that we’ll never finish.

Seriously, I have about four or five pages worth of unfinished Monopoly games in my phone.

But it’s all fun. There isn’t a better way to spend an hour than talking to children who need a non-parent, non-teacher adult in their ears.

Linda West, who coordinates FES’ peer mentoring and also mentors a student of her own, says it’s one of the easiest volunteering opportunities the community has to offer.

“If you have a little bit of time — and that’s all it takes — and you like kids at all, even if it’s a little bit, giving a little of your time makes an impact that you may or may not even see for a long time,” West said. “And it’s just fun. You just kind of hang out with a kid, get to know them, play a game.”

Currently, the peer mentoring program has 104 students meeting with 99 mentors at Fredericksburg Independent School District’s four campuses.

But there’s still a need for mentors, with nine kids waiting for mentors at FES, where Academic Booster Club members would like mentors to start.

“We like to have students be matched while in elementary, as getting them involved younger has greater benefits, just like having them involved in special services earlier has a greater academic impact,” said Lori McClellan, the Fredericksburg Academic Boosters peer mentoring administrator. “This also allows for students and mentors to meet together over a longer time.”

Unlike the other campuses, the elementary allows an hour for mentoring. The hour-long period gives mentors a chance to learn about their pal.

Several kids are waiting to get paired with mentors.

Stonewall Elementary School, Fredericksburg Elementary School, Fredericksburg Middle School and Fredericksburg High School each have at least one student on the waiting list.

More information is available by contacting McClellan at 830-990-4595 or by emailing fbgacademicboosters@gmail.com.