iCONNECT Mentees Becoming Mentors at Manhattan Academy for Arts & Language

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Last year, the Manhattan Academy for Arts & Language (MAAL) was one of three high schools to pilot the iCONNECT model.  MAAL is a small school in Midtown which serves students who are English Language Learners (ELL), many of whom are recent immigrants to the U.S.  The transition can be challenging for any young person entering the 9th grade, but for young people adapting to not only a new school, but a new country, it can be overwhelming and difficult to say the least.  For students at MAAL in particular, the iCONNECT program has been a support system and a space for community building among peers who can relate to each other’s experiences.

Beginning in February 2013, twenty 11th grade students were selected to participate as Mentees in the program based on their previous year’s attendance rate and their leadership potential.  The Mentees met twice per week with their mentors during lunch to eat, talk, and connect with each other in order to set goals and hold each other accountable for their success in and out of school.

This year, MAAL’s 20 mentees have continued to meet with their UAP iCONNECT Mentors in preparation for becoming Mentors themselves to 9th grade students who are showing signs of attendance & academic struggles.  On February 24th, the MAAL iCONNECT program became the first school to begin the peer mentoring among 12th and 9th grade students. As current 12th grade students, the Mentors are closer to graduation and are sharing their wisdom with the 9th grade Mentees and leaving their legacy as the school’s first group of peer mentors.

The iCONNECT model is structured so that all participants will eventually step in to the role of a mentor to their younger peers.  We are already seeing some great results at MAAL with 81% of the mentors improving their attendance from the previous year.  One participant went from 48 absences to 5 absences, and now he is in a leadership role working to improve younger students’ lives while passing along the advice & motivation he received from his iCONNECT Mentor over the past year.

Congrats to our MAAL Mentors and all the great work they are beginning with their Mentees!  We can’t wait to see the impact you have on these students.

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