Madison Mentor Program Launches

A new peer mentor program supports all freshmen

By F. Branson
September 14, 2018

New to James Madison High School for the 2018-19 school year is a peer mentor program that pairs all freshmen with an upperclassmen mentor. Each summer, the school holds a week-long orientation program, called Bridges, to introduce the freshmen to a snapshot of the high school experience. Until this year, however, there was not a systematic way to provide support to the freshmen once the school year began. Madison’s Student Services Department set a goal to develop a program that helped freshmen with the transition to high school, to develop their sense of connectedness and engagement with all aspects of high school.

To facilitate the program, over 130 upperclassmen will serve as mentors to the freshmen throughout the year. These mentors began working with Core Trainings, an outside company based out of New Hampshire, to be trained as a peer mentors over the summer. The monthly mentor trainings will teach the upperclassmen mentors leadership skills and how to develop positive relationships with underclassmen. The trainers from Core Trainers will model each activity the mentors will complete with their mentees and provide strategies of how best to engage each student.

The 2018 Madison Mentors program is chiefly sponsored through a generous donation from the Warhawk Foundation, founded in 2016. On Thursday, September 13, Nathan Hibler, a member of the Board of Directors of the Warhawk Foundation, presented a check to the school. Present at the ceremony were the 13 lead mentors of the Madison Mentors program, members of the Student Services Department, school board member Dalia Palchik, Principal Greg Hood and the Mayor of Vienna, Laurie DiRocco. Also present were Bob Gambarelli and Gail Hibler, who are on the Warhawk Foundation Board of Directors and who collectively worked at Madison for over 40 years.

The first meeting between each freshmen and his mentor was held on the third Friday of the school year, September 14. At this initial meeting, the mentors played a game with their mentees to get know more about each freshmen. The mentors will meet with their mentees once a month, from September through February during Warhawk Time, a daily enrichment period.