“Not Like Any Other Class” — Peer Mentor Program Practices Relationship Building

By Office of Communications
March 05, 2024

Each day, students from Westfield High School’s Peer Mentor class travel to a different feeder elementary school to bond with their younger mentees. The high schoolers have buddies at Deer Park, London Towne, Virginia Run, Cub Run, and Bull Run elementary schools. They meet during their weekly mentoring class. 

The highly sought-after class at Westfield invites sophomores, juniors, and seniors to apply. Students are carefully vetted for this program and undergo a rigorous application and interview process before they are accepted.

two students playing chess together

Once the high schoolers arrive at the elementary schools, they pick up their mentee from their classroom and begin 30 minutes of uninterrupted time together. During this time, the possibilities are nearly endless, based on the mentee's interests and/or needs for that day. 

During one particular session in February at Deer Park, buddies were scattered throughout the library making Valentines, playing board games, reading, and chatting together. Buddies also had the option to be outside playing catch, jumping rope, using sidewalk chalk, or just enjoying the fresh air together. 

two students reading together

“I couldn’t wait to tell her that I’m going to Disney World in June,” said third grader Reese about her buddy Chelsey, a senior. “I love that I can have the same buddy two years in a row,” Reese continued. In some cases, such as with Reese and Chelsey, efforts are made to keep buddies together if high school students elect to take the class an additional year.

“He’s easy to talk to and I like that we get to play board games together,” said Vaishnavi about her elementary buddy, Issac. Vaishnavi decided to apply to be in Peer because it was “super unique and unlike any other class. You get to go off campus and work with kids — not an opportunity everyone gets at school.” 

three students sitting on the ground and rolling a tennis ball back and forth

Senior Brenden was motivated to apply to be a mentor because he saw it as an excellent character-building opportunity. “I like working with kids,” he explains. “I thought the class would be a great way to work on social skills and be a leader.”

Westfield Teacher Amanda Blizzard has already seen a noticeable change in her high school students. “The biggest thing I have seen is in the ability of our students to make quick decisions to be more responsible.” She continues, “Because each of the five schools is so unique, our students are learning how to adapt to the [different] needs of their mentees and to communicate with teachers and counselors.” 

The mentoring relationships between students help build confidence, improve communication and interpersonal skills, and promote positive decision-making and accountability, among many other positive attributes. 

Several schools across the school division offer mentor programs for students. Contact your school counselor to learn more about your school-specific offerings.