We all know that being connected to other people is important. Babies need to bond with their parents, pets need to bond with their owners, and research into children has taught us that even one close, healthy relationship with a friend can make a positive difference in their development.
Seedling Foundation is passionate about educating our Mentors, School Contacts and Caregivers and we invest in that passion by sponsoring Lunchtime Training sessions that bring these groups together and equip them with the information and skills they need to do this very important job we call “mentoring.”
Our September Lunchtime Training brought guest presenter, JC Pohl, co-creator of Teen Truth to share his experiences and conversations he has had with young people all over the U.S., about school violence and bullying. TT Live is a youth development and empowerment program designed to build safe and connected school communities.
His over-arching message was that relationships can protect against the kind of isolation that some youth feel as a result of stigma around parental incarceration, as well as the disconnectedness — at school or at home — that can occur for many other reasons.
School-based mentors, like those in Seedling’s Mentor Program, are in a special position to help build the important “protective factor” of school “connectedness.”
“School Connectedness is the belief by students that adults and peers in the school care about their learning as well as about them as individuals,” says the Centers for Disease Control. What can a school-based mentor do to help build school connectedness for and within the mentee? More than encouraging your mentee to do well in school, connectedness is about feeling like part of the school.
For ideas you can use, check out the list of suggestions for building school connectedness that our Seedling Mentor Directors have collected.
Let us know if you have additional strategies you have discovered along the way!
-Seedling Mentor Program Staff