By: Julia Sanders
Newnan High School students have been busy on Friday mornings creating cougar connections with Elm Street Elementary School students.
NHS and Elm Street have had a mentoring program since the end of last year. Elm Street is the first elementary school to have this type of mentoring program and partnership, where high school students spend time with elementary school students building personal connections.
Elm Street started a mentoring program at their school to mentor kids in fifth grade. Mrs. Elizabeth Rance, a fifth grade teacher at Elm Street, helped create the Elm Street mentoring program. One day, she suggested that high school students should mentor the fifth graders at Elm Street.
“I just knew fifth graders would listen and respond so much more to older students,” Mrs. Rance explained.
After Mrs. Rance suggested the mentoring program, Dr. Kelli Sowerbrower, NHS Literacy Coordinator, wanted to help. Dr. Hildebrand, the Principal of Elm Street, and Dr. Puckett, Principal of NHS, also joined the cause and helped establish the partnership.
Once they met at Elm Street to discuss how to start the mentoring program, there was a growing concern that some high school students might not want to get involved, because they would not want to lose their parking spots and not be able to find parking upon returning.
Dr. Puckett and Dr. Sowerbrower asked the coaches to drive the high school students to Elm Street, and the coaches agreed to help.
Mrs. Rance said her favorite thing about the mentoring program is how her “twenty-six students ask everyday when the high schoolers are coming back. Some of our students have had tough lives, and to have someone believe in them and notice them besides their teacher and parents is impacting them in ways we see and in ways we may never see.”
Both Mrs. Rance and Dr. Sowerbrower noted how moving it has been to see high school students take much younger students under their wing.
“Watching high school students wake up extra early every other Friday to try and make a difference in the life of a ten year old is truly inspiring to me,” Mrs. Rance commented.
“The mentoring happens because Newnan High School students are awesome,” Dr. Sowerbrower interjected. “The elementary students love having a high schooler looking out for them.”
Mrs. Rance and the other staff members at Elm Street hope “the impact of the Newnan High School students on Elm Street’s students will also inspire them to want to give back to the community one day.”
“Elm Street is truly grateful to the students, high school, teachers, and administration for working with us,” Mrs. Rance said.