Contrary to what Xander* believes, he still is a kid being only 17 years-old. Xander lives and learns at The Home’s Longview Farm (LVF) Program, a therapeutic, residential, special education school. He is a part of the newly created, mentoring program at LVF which pairs kids from the upper school with younger youth from the lower school.
The new mentoring program was created by math teacher Tracy and clinician, Leslee who noticed gravitation between the kids. “Many of the older kids have been in the younger ones’ shoes and have empathy for them. Especially, for the many young men who had a parental role at home before coming to LVF,” said Leslee. Tracy and Leslee developed the program which provides training for older youth in managing emotions, role modeling, and boundary setting.
Xander’s mentee Nick* is a third grader who really struggles with reading. At first, Nick wasn’t open to reading at all and was shy around Xander. In his role as a mentor, Xander broke the ice and began reading with Nick on a regular basis. “I feel responsible for him (Nick) and I miss my own little brother,” said Xander of his mentee.
Meeting throughout the summer, the pair worked together and now Nick is voluntarily working on his reading skills. Xander and Nick have become close friends, almost like siblings. The mentoring program is thriving as well. The ‘big’ kids welcome their new responsibilities and have been more successful in managing their own behavior and helping the ‘little’ kids do the same. “I’ve seen softer, calmer sides of the mentors I’ve never seen before,” explains Tracy as she described the benefits the older youth receive from the program. LVF is looking to expand the program through peer-to-peer training and possibly integrating mentor/mentee meetings into the school day. Overall, the kids are thrilled to have a connection with other kids on campus. Wise beyond his years Xander shared, “You should be a role model wherever you are.”
“When I was a kid I had a mentor and really looked up to him,” said Xander.