IHS students become mentors, role models

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

They may look like typical high students, but in the eyes of some children in Ironton's elementary schools, a dozen IHS students are teachers, role models and friends.

A new program this year in the Ironton City Schools pairs high schools kids who have a free period with elementary students who need a little extra help. High school students volunteer to spend spare time during the day at one of the city's two elementary schools, helping a younger child with reading, math and spelling.

"They act as a mentor and talk to the kids about daily issues, they motivate them, help them with school work," Whitwell principal John Maynard said. "I have seen an improvement. … Students who never made A's on spelling tests before are now making A's. And that's a big deal for them."

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School officials were exploring new avenues to help those children who were struggling academically. Educators agreed the youngsters need individualized attention to help them learn and to gain confidence in their academic skills. Whitwell teacher Bobbi Payne said the new mentoring program is a tremendous help.

"We had students who needed one-on-one instruction and that's what this program does, it gives them individualized attention,"

Payne said.

Kesha Collins, a senior at IHS, said she someday plans to be a nurse. But for now, she is happy to be a teacher's helper, if only for a few hours a week. "I really wanted to help the kids out," Collins said. "I know how important it is to read, I know how much I like it. If I can help a child learn to enjoy reading, I will."