To help National Honor Students at Saipan International School meet their community service needs, Ingur Lee, a high school teacher, started a mentoring program pairing NHS students with students in need of help in certain academic subjects.
The program, which started school year, has now 40 mentors in the program, according to Lee.
Mentors usually help students two hours a week, for a total of 50 to 80 hours a year.
He said the program is similar to peer programs at other school but these mentors add a different dynamic in that they are not too close to the ages of their mentees but not too far apart in age as adult tutors or teachers would be.
He called it a good mix of “accessibility and authority.”
He said mentors deepen their understanding of subjects they are already strong in, as they now have to teach them to others.
“Teaching makes it permanent,” he said. “Mentees sometimes ask questions that you never thought about.”
Mentors sign up, list down areas of academic strength, and are then matched with students who have also listed down their areas of need.
Reading, vocabulary, spelling, geometry and even penmanship are some of the few examples seen on the sign-up sheet.
He hopes to continue the program into the future as he has gotten good feedback from students.
A couple of students were even surprised they enjoyed it, he said.
He noted mutual respect as important in the mentor-mentee dynamic.
“The best teacher is not the one with the highest skill. The best teacher is one that can connect,” he said.
SIS headmaster Tim Bray called the program “positive for all the kids” involved.
“The young students have someone to look up to. The older students learn a lot of leadership skills because they are helping someone younger than themselves. It’s like a brother or little sister, it’s really a nurturing, positive environment,” he said.
Mentoring goes on after school, from 2:50pm to 3:40pm, according to Lee.