Math mentoring program pairs East Lansing high and middle schoolers

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A new math mentoring program is planned for East Lansing High School.

The program, proposed by Amy Sayers, allows 11th and 12th grade students to mentor 4th and 5th graders in math.

Sayers’s precalculus class has been testing this program with students at Whitehills Elementary. The 4th graders have been hand selected by their teachers to be mentored by Sayers’s students.

Whitehills Principal Shane Johnson said the program will not only build bridges between elementary and high school, but help the students see a future. Many students may not have older siblings or be familiar with high school, and this allows the elementary students to make connections.

Johnson said East Lansing High School principal Andrew Wells, “is big on East Lansing family, and I feel like this is a wonderful way to (connect). Instead of being little pods, we actually are connecting our school that we are ultimately feeding into, and I think that’s a beautiful thing,” he said.

Now that the 11th and 12th graders have “elementary buddies,” they are mentoring them in both math and life, building a mentor-mentee bond. In the course description, it is recommended for the mentor to attend at least one out-of-classroom event for the mentee.

Sayers described how one elementary student who would not talk to the mentor at the start of the program and was very shy around adults, now feels comfortable with their mentor. The mentee is open with them, and their math has improved.

Sayers got the idea for the program by asking her high school students when they first started having real struggles with math. Many of them said upper-elementary school, which led to choosing the 4th and 5th grade mentoring.

According to Trustee Terah Chambers, this can boost the confidence of high school students who struggle, as well as boost the confidence of their 4th and 5th graders.

According to Andrew Wells, the byproduct of the program is getting firsthand experience by teaching what you learn.

The board was enthusiastic for the future of the mentoring program, and Sayers hopes to expand to all of East Lansing.

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