Eight years ago, Dodd social worker Felice Niland attended a conference featuring speaker John Hershey of the Mentoring Partnership of Long Island, now known as Mentor NY.
Hershey charged each participant with returning back to their school and starting a mentoring program, and Niland began the quest right away. During the first year of mentoring, Dodd had 12 teachers mentoring 12 students. Eight years later, Dodd has 53 mentors mentoring 103 students. In November, Dodd was invited to have one of their mentees speak about what mentoring has meant to her at the Mentor NY annual fundraiser at Neiman Marcus.
Jasmine Figueroa, now a high school freshman, gave a moving and eloquent speech about how mentoring helped her through middle school. She spoke highly and emotionally about her mentor, Michele Haimes, FACS teacher at Dodd. Haimes mentored Figueroa for two years — informally the first year and formally the second — and provided her with support.
Mentoring has been proven to reduce truancy, improve academics and help students feel more connected to school. Eighty percent of students who have had a mentor go on to become mentors themselves later in life.
The mentoring program has proven to be a worthwhile initiative, and one the school will continue for many years to come.