Freshman year of high school is a big change for students, said Bill Baldwin, assistant principal at South-Doyle High School.
It’s a new school. It’s the first time they are earning credits for graduation. The classes they pick and the grades they earn, even as freshmen, can impact plans, Baldwin said.
“Four years goes by so fast,” he said.
So a new mentor program at the school aims to help students — especially those who will be the first in their family to go to college — start thinking about postsecondary success.
It’s called “Mentor 2.0” and is a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. First used in New York, the program at South-Doyle will be the first time it’s used in Tennessee.
Interested mentors can attend an informational session at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the school’s auditorium.
The first group will be about 50 to 75 incoming South-Doyle freshmen and the goal is to add a cohort each year, said Whitney Baker, Mentor 2.0 program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. She said about 40 more mentors are needed.
Using a mix of weekly emails and monthly in-person meetings between student and mentor, the program also has a weekly class for students during the school day with topics like time management and college readiness.
Ninth-grade students are paired with a mentor and the program continues through senior year.
The program provides structure for conversations about college that might be difficult to start or are unfamiliar if a parent or family member didn’t go to college, said Baker. She will teach the weekly class at the school.
Baldwin, who was previously the freshman principal at South-Doyle, said he’s excited about the program because it fills a need for someone to work one-on-one with students about college and career readiness starting that first year of high school.
He and Baker agreed having a mentor, an addition of someone to a student’s life who isn’t a parent or a teacher, is beneficial.
“This mentor is choosing to spend time with you,” Baker said.