ABOUT MENTOR JR
A Note from Jessie Pitsillides, founder Mentor Jr.
The idea behind MentorJr. is simple. Bright, motivated sixth form students who value eduction and want to give back to their communities volunteer their time offering primary school children free educational support and mentoring. At Mentor Jr, we want to make tutoring more accessible and work towards levelling out the educational playing field. This service was originally designed as a face-to-face initiative where mentors would visit schools in person, but since the changes with Covid-19, we have moved everything online and so, are able to make it accessible to many more children and families who could really benefit from the support we provide.
The reason that I believe so strongly in the potential of this initiative is that it has the scope to positively impact not only students but parents and educators as well, and here’s how:
Primary students. Young students on the scheme will have the chance to form meaningful connections with older peers that will allow them to reap the benefits of having a mentor. While this will be couched in terms of the important academic advantages that they will derive from the academic support they receive, there will also be the added advantage of having an older student to talk to about social issues like fitting in, forming friendships and navigating school life. In short, the relationships these students will form will be as valuable as the academic advantages that they will benefit from.
Junior mentors. These are bright, talented young people who understand how lucky they have been in being afforded the benefits of their education and have the desire to share that privilege by giving back; however, it is often difficult to find a way to do so. Many secondary school students are trying to keep up with academic demands and extracurriculars so the process of finding a voluntary placement can be administratively onerous and difficult. Mentor Jr. has been setup to address this and make the process simpler. As a student myself, I understand the barriers that other students often face when trying to organise volunteer work. I have addressed each of these issues making the process seamless. From flexible hours, to structured goals and ongoing support, our Mentors can give back in a way that benefits their community and indeed that they benefit from as well.
Parents. Many parents have to juggle the demands of a job and home life as well as those of their children’s increasingly test-driven education. Mentor Jr. allows parents to give their children a positive and highly rewarding educational experience, by allowing access to structured academic support. In fact, it levels the playing field for those parents that can’t afford tutoring for public exams or homework support for their kids as it is completely free of charge. Indeed, because many of the sessions are right after school, this will help keep children occupied in a fun, constructive way allowing parents the time to work and get on with other demands. Parents are assured that their kids are in a positive, supportive learning environment and after their time with their Mentors, they can enjoy connecting with their child without the stress of having to spend a disproportionate amount of valuable family time supervising homework.
Educators. The amazing work that our educators do is truly some of the most important, profound and impactful on our society. Cutbacks in education and increasing class sizes, however, has meant that regardless of the skill and commitment of teachers it is sometimes difficult to accomplish all the things that they want to do with their students. Mentor Jr. hopes in some small way to address this.
THE MENTOR JR. PHILOSOPHY
Our philosophy is simple: the benefits of good education should be available to all. There is a significant body of research to suggest that regular extra-curricular academic support puts kids at a greater advantage in life, not just from an educational perspective, but from a social perspective as well. School-based mentoring has been found to have positive effects on children and young people including:
increased school completion rates
improved attitudes about education
higher levels of academic motivation and achievement
improved resilience and strengthened peer, school and family relationships amongst other benefits.
I speak from experience when I say that I have benefited greatly from the after school clubs and activities that have been offered to me by my school over the years. They have allowed me not only to explore new ideas and ways of thinking, but also to connect with inspiring mentors that have helped me along my school journey. It is my goal to allow every student to access the simple yet profound benefits of mentorship; basically, I want to give back and in Mentor Jr. we’ve developed a win-win for all. Our young students get the advantages of having a brilliant teen mentor to inspire and support them, and our mentors get the advantages of developing organisational and leadership skills that they need for their future as well as the chance to feel that they are spreading some of the privileges and advantages they have been afforded.
To allow every student to reach their full academic potential despite limitations of resources or access that they may be facing.
To allow students to give back by making the process of volunteering more streamlined and accessible to teens.
To allow this initiative to spread! Starting locally is a good start but this scheme is scalable so MentorJr. mentors can be recruited around the UK.
Mentor Jr. is run by students, for students. The service is free of charge run by sixth form volunteers who believe in the power of education and who want to support their communities. We take safeguarding seriously and have offered safeguarding course to all our tutors. Given that most of our tutors are between 16-18 years old, they are only now going through the process of getting DBS checks. However, regardless of these checks, we recommend that all parents should take their own precautions and supervise all sessions with their children. Our mentors are not qualified teachers and of course are not there to replace teachers. Mentor Jr. is an educational support and mentoring service set up to inspire a love of learning, help kids deal with tricky homework problems and support families who are trying to navigate online learning. Once you have booked a tutoring sessions and your mentor has reached out to you, feel free to ask them about their current DBS status.