The Freshman Transition Network

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Does anyone have experience or knowledge related to using upperclassmen as mentors for freshman students as part of their transition program? Ideally I would have liked to have our transition program in place first, but I inherited a situation where we have a group of mentors but not much else. This is also the first year for the mentors. While we work on a true transition program, we are looking for ways to effectively use this cadre of mentors. We have a schedule where two days a week we have a block schedule: on those days our students have BKT or "Black Knight Time" which we are still trying to define. Definite potential, students are in these as classes with teachers by grade level. Our plan is to try to push our mentors out into these BKT's to work with freshmen. BKT's are 35 min. Any help, suggestions, or resources are appreciated.

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Sandra Cantwell left this comment for you:
As a previous 9th grade principal at Joplin High School in Joplin MO, I witnessed an amazing mentoring program for provided by juniors and seniors for freshmen. The program is called FUSION.

Author’s note: For more information about the Fusion Project, contact Tobin Schultz, Program Director, at tobinschultz@joplinschools.org (mailto:tobinschultz@joplinschools.org) or visit: http://www.joplinschools.org/fusionlinks (http://www.joplinschools.org/fusionlinks)
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At David Douglas High School, Portland, Oregon, we're bringing back Link Crew.  Link Crew (Boomerang) is a national leadership/mentor  program that offers programming for 6-12 grades.  Link Crew leaders are 11th and 12th graders who have been recommended by school staff as potential mentors.  The program lays out curriculum, assemblies, and other mentoring events for schools.  Link Crew staff must go through a 3-day training.  As part of the DDHS Link Crew program, mentors (Linkers) must take the leadership class.  We selected 125 juniors and seniors to participate in the program - they will go through a 2-day training next week and open up the year by running the Freshman-only Orientation Day.  Linkers will also meet frequently with these students via Freshman Academies, lunches, our tutoring center and other venues.  They will kick off the year with our Back-To-School Friday football game - inviting their mentees to the game to hang out together, be introduced as the freshman class and free hot dogs from the Dad's Club.  (By the way, we will have an incoming 9th grade class of 900, so we find many ways of connecting - by staff and students)

Here is the Boomerang Project general website:

http://www.boomerangproject.com

Please feel free to contact me - Maureen Utz, Grant Director, David Douglas High School

maureen_utz@ddouglas.k12.or.us

We use our 10th - 12th grades extensively at The Freshman Academy here in Sioux Falls. 

For our 10th graders, it is the only way to get open lunch. Sophomore students are vetted and parent permission is required. Students then work four days a week in our 1/2 hour study hall and then get open lunch on Fridays. It's the most magical program I've every run. I train the 10th graders three times a semester on various questioning strategies and just pump them up and reset expectations.

For our 11th and 12th graders we use Link Crew for our Freshman Orientation. (http://www.boomerangproject.com/)  We just finished that yesterday and it was amazing. We had 73% of our freshman come to this voluntary event. The Link Crew leaders just crushed it.

We also use about 100 students a semester to peer tutor for credit. Students do a small amount of writing and attend two days a training each semester. We use this throughout the building but use it a lot in freshman classrooms.

Here are a couple of questions that have been pivotal to us as we developed over the last seven years.  

Who do you want to do this? What kind of kid?

How can you make it worth their while?

How will you train them and hold them accountable?

Are you planting the seeds during the freshman year regarding service to others so that when they get older they are ready to go to work for you?

Just some thoughts. Glad to share whatever else if interested.

Todd.Novak@k12.sd.us

 

We created a "Peer Mentor" program at Derby High (Derby, KS).  We utilize the highly-motivated upperclassmen in our Freshman Transition class (Success 101).  They have all gone through the class and know which parts are confusing or difficult from the student perspective.  We have them work with teams so they get to know the freshmen.  It is incredible to watch these bonds form between the students.  I don't know what I would do without them!  We just rolled out laptops to all 520 of our freshmen and it went smoothly, in part to our Peer Mentors. 

I believe that our freshmen program is going so well (this is year 3) due to this and changing/enhancing our program.

Let me know if you want more information!  cfoster@usd260.com

John - did you get enough responses to help you out?

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