Student Reflection: Ina Maloney

This semester I participated in the Potsdam Middle School Mentoring Program as a part of my Leadership and Civic Engagement class. The Mentoring Program partners college students with 5th-8th graders to help them with their homework and participate in activities with them. My community partner, Sheila Tiernan, along with two other teachers, organize the program and make sure that it runs smoothly each day. They ensure that the students get the support they need, while also organizing fun activities for the mentors and mentees to participate in. Their enthusiasm and care for the program makes the experience enjoyable and keeps the middle school students coming back each week.

My experience with the program has been very positive. I have really enjoyed working with and learning about my mentee, as well as the other middle school students involved in the program. For the students, mentoring is more than just a place that they can go to get help with homework. It is a structured program they can rely on for two hours before they go home. Being aware of this has shown me just how important the program and my role is. For example, there was one week when there were only two mentors including me. During that week it was much harder to get the mentees to focus on their homework and many of the students got in trouble, which was not as enjoyable for them, because we did not have everyone to keep the middle schoolers focused and in line. For this reason it is very important to have enough volunteers in order to keep the program productive and fun for the students. Ultimately, my experience has made me wish that I had gotten involved with CBL earlier in order to get more involved with the program and see its affects on the students.