Riverside High mentor talks with his Ruth Upson Elementary mentee.

‘I feel like I’m looking up to the right person’: Mentoring program pairs up Riverside High and Ruth Upson Elementary students

Jan. 30, 2023 – Behavior problems. A lack of confidence. A lack of motivation in school.

These were some of the symptoms Ruth Upson Elementary School staff observed in a group of fourth and fifth graders, and they knew something needed to change.

This prompted staff to reach out to the nearby Riverside High School, and teacher Reginald Benyard.

The goal? To initiate mentor-mentee relationships between the high school and elementary school students.

“Our hope was that by pairing our students with a high school mentor they would hopefully form a deeper connection and ultimately help improve their behaviors and motivation,” says Dr. Faith Roberts-Graham, principal of Ruth Upson.

That was in 2018, and Dr. Roberts-Graham says students experienced many successes as they were paired with mentors and met on a monthly basis. However, in the midst of the Covid lockdowns of 2020, the program was placed on a hiatus. 

But as of the 2022-2023 school year, the program is back in session. Students are once again meeting monthly and incorporating a variety of activities, including games and group discussions. Students say they can already see the benefit.

“I feel like I’m looking up to the right person, and that person can guide me and help me,” says fifth-grade mentee Daniel Strada. “He’s already experienced, and he already understands because he’s been in elementary before.”

Strada’s mentor agrees.

“It connects with them better to see someone that was in their shoes,” says Riverside Senior Jamarcus Jordan.

Watch the video above to learn more about what both Riverside High and Ruth Upson Elementary students say they are gaining from this experience.

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