A new Dwight Hall mentoring initiative aims to diversify the organization’s current tutoring program offerings by pairing Yale sophomores with Wexler Grant Elementary School students for the rest of their time at the University.
The initiative the Dwight Hall Academic Mentoring Program, pairs Wexler-Grant sixth-graders with the same Yale sophomore for three years — a marked contrast from most Dwight Hall tutoring programs, which have flexible commitment levels ranging from a year to an afternoon. Yale participants receive a $14 per hour stipend is offered in exchange for a commitment to the program’s three year length.
Dwight Hall Program Director Johnny Scafidi ’01 said the continuity of mentorship “helps students set long term goals, plans and visions.”
Student coordinator Alison Kadesch ’08 said she understands that the commitment can be daunting for sophomores who are still undecided about their majors or study abroad plans, but thinks the program’s impact on students’ lives compensates for its lack of flexibility.
“[The program] allows you to have a real relationship with a student for the long term,” she said. “[The students] realize that [the mentor] will be someone who is going to be coming back.”
Kadesch said the mentoring program’s goal is to develop an interest in learning in students who may not otherwise continue their education. To meet these goals, Kadech said the program requires a time commitment of five to eight hours a week from Yale sophomores. Four of these hours will be spent at the school, while the remaining time involves engaging in extracurricular activities with the student. The sophomores also will receive help from Dwight Hall in the form of regular training sessions, Kadesch said.
“We are looking for [Yale] students who are enthusiastic and who really want to share their love of learning with the students,” she said. “We do not only want to improve their math and reading skills, but convince them to stay through high school and go on to college.”
Scafidi said the program is based on research showing that intervention based on long term goals at the middle school age can be crucial in determining whether a student will finish high school and go to college. While improving academic performance is one of the program’s goals, the program also is expected to impact students’ lives in areas outside of school.
Wexler-Grant Principal Jeffie Frazier said she expects to see improvement that is not limited to academics.
“We really want to see an increase in character as well as in academic performance,” Frazier said. “We also want to impact the home with what they are doing academically.”
The parents of the sixth graders already have already shown support for the program, Scafidi said.
“We met with some parents already who are really excited about the program, especially about the career aspect,” he said.
The program’s coordinators expect work at the school to begin next week, Scafidi said.