In the spring of 2001, several LMS students of color had an idea for building community and sharing their experiences as students at GDS.
More than a decade later, we are pleased that the brainchild of those students has blossomed into the full-fledged Students of Color (SOC) Mentoring Program. The SOC Mentoring Program is open to all students of color in grades 5–8. In the last three sessions of the year, fourth grade students of color are invited as a way to introduce and welcome them into this shared experience.
The term “Students of Color” includes children from Black/African American, Asian/Asian American, Middle-Eastern American, American Indian/Native American, Latino/Hispanic, and Multiracial backgrounds.
During SOC sessions, students openly discuss their experiences and concerns as members of the GDS community. Students are organized into family groups with students from different grade levels and at least one faculty member in each “family.”
Through whole-group and small-group activities, students build a support network among their peers and create a forum in which they can share their thoughts and ideas. Students share their successes and accomplishments, and learn how to use one another as resources in approaching challenges and developing effective problem-solving strategies.
While GDS faculty and staff facilitate the mentoring sessions, GDS high school students, who are members of the various affinity groups that exist at the High School also play an active role as mentors, sharing their insight and experiences, as well as assisting in different activities. Throughout the year, the SOC faculty will also work to identify meaningful off-campus activities that all students can participate in.
Our first session of the 2015-16 school year was held on Monday, October 5. As an icebreaker, we asked students to think about their favorite book or movie. As teachers, this was another great opportunity to learn more about our students as we got a glimpse into their worlds outside of school. We also had pizza, which is always a highlight. While we ate, we discussed our community norms. This process allowed us to establish trust and give a clear understanding about what the expectations of our collective experience will be for the months to come.
We ended our first session by giving the students an opportunity to brainstorm the types of topics they would like to discuss during upcoming sessions. Our next meetings will consist of conversations around cultural heritage, life at GDS as a SOC, race, ethnicity, problem solving and team building, just to name a few.
SOC Mentoring takes place from 3:30 PM–5:00 PM once a month on Mondays throughout the school year for grades 5–8 (with 4th joining in the Spring).
Students of Color Mentoring Program Dates 2015-2016 Dates:
October 5; November 9; December 14; January 11; February 1; March 7; April 4; and May 2 (Final Meeting Celebration)
We look forward to engaging with the students in the months ahead!
The Students of Color Mentoring Faculty
Crissy Cáceres, Nickole Sharp, Judy Brown, Charles Edwards, Antika Singh, Bryan Williams