“I’m really going to miss you.”
This was what one elementary student shared with her mentor as they said goodbye for a couple of weeks over the Christmas break on their Zoom call. This after only a few meetings. It shows the power of connection that can be made, even virtually, through mentoring.
With volunteers not currently being allowed into public schools, Vital Families in Schools and Fellowship Bible Church piloted a virtual mentoring program at Meadowcliff Elementary this past fall. School administrators, parents, students, and mentors all agreed that the pilot was a success! Principal Cynthia Collins shared in a Facebook post, “Meadowcliff is honored to be a part of this mentoring movement. So excited that even during COVID there is a way to connect.” There is now a plan to encourage more churches to start a virtual mentoring program at their partner school this spring in order to connect with students who may be struggling.
The virtual mentoring program is simple enough to execute — a mentor meets with an elementary student for a weekly 30-minute Zoom call outside of school hours where the student can share about what’s going on in their life and screens are shared to play a game and read together. Also, there may be some character development needs that have been identified and the mentor can choose stories and activities that reinforce growth in that area. The program coordinator facilitates the video call and uses Zoom breakout rooms to allow the mentors and students to meet one-on-one while periodically joining in to monitor. Parents have been sharing that the students really look forward to their mentoring session each week!
Another advantage of the virtual mentoring program is that it allows mentors to connect with parents as well. Strengthening families is a key way to affect student success, and virtual mentoring gives a window into what is going on at home, and opportunities for family support. In our pilot program, one mother reached out to the mentor and coordinator to share that she was struggling with grief issues and they were able to connect her with a counselor from the church to encourage her and point her to resources. We hope your church will consider launching a virtual mentoring program during this time of great need for students! For more information about launching a program, please contact Mary Carol Pederson at firstname.lastname@example.org.