Middle School Peer Mentoring Program

A Peacemaking Project by Alistair S.

What is the injustice we are solving?

This project seeks to address imbalances in the school system and the lack of educational opportunities for middle schoolers from low-income communities in New York City.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of a lack of educational opportunities for middle schoolers
we will address limited resources and support for students from low-income backgrounds
by using our experience as high schoolers to provide students with academic tutoring, mentoring and resources to enrich them academically.

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • To facilitate a 10% improvement in my students' grades over the course of the next two semesters
  • To increase students' engagement with and enjoyment of STEM subjects over the next two semesters
  • For each student participating in the tutoring program to pass state standardized tests
  • To provide students with information about career opportunities to increase aspirations

We will increase my / our compassion by...

...always keeping in mind how we would want to be treated were we in the students' position. This means having a supportive attitude towards helping the student, and then being consistent and proactive in our approach to helping them, particularly with regard to communication. Listening to the students' needs will form the bedrock of our approach.

How will you show courage?

As high school students ourselves, we will show courage by taking initiative for the greater good to improve the academic futures of other members of the school community in New York City.

How will you collaborate with others?

We will work closely with the students' parents, guardians, and teachers at P.S./M.S. 161 to ensure we provide the best possible support for their students. We will take guidance from Project Rousseau in structuring our academic and mentoring program.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

We will measure the progress made by students participating in the program through their grades, and in their engagement across STEM subjects.

Key Steps

  • Contact Principal of P.S./M.S. 161 to arrange initial planning meeting
  • Recruit volunteer high school tutors and mentors
  • Select vice president to help run the tutoring program
  • Design curriculum and plan lessons, to make sure service to students is as good as possible

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

While working with the students and teaching them about the STEM field we only realized the depth of knowledge they weren’t exposed to. This made my team and I more dedicated to teaching and helping them.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

My community now has a deeper understanding of what STEM can really be. Not only do the children in my community now see that they can achieve a career involved in STEM but they see it can be fun as well.

How many people were impacted by your project?

40

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

To get the number of people I impacted I included my team and the students we worked with. The true number would be ‘40 and counting’ because those same students we worked with to help them understand the beauty within STEM will be able to pass it on to others.

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

Throughout the project we became very close to the students. They taught us how they felt about the lack of opportunities given to them, and how they truly wanted to learn more.

What did your team learn?

We learned the importance of passing down the knowledge one holds onto others. Not only does this action benefit yourself it helps to initiate a brighter future.

What challenges did your team overcome?

In any group there are people that are unmotivated. In our group of students some lacked motivation it was our challenge to motivate them. Being understanding and having patience allowed us to have the skill set to try to elicit a passion within them.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

Throughout the project I had an amazing team from volunteers to my Vice President. My Vice President was able to administer lessons to the students. My volunteers showed dedication by coming every day to help the children through the lessons, science projects and homework.

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

Make sure you plan your sessions thoroughly and effectively to allow the students to make as much progress as possible.

Our Updates:

Lesson Plans and Presentations

Alistair S. 18 May 2018 10:59 Here is an example PowerPoint presentation from our project: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/18DyFqUcBM2AdEcK8ju4XSLyheUpbUlal7xTXl0tgnfs/edit#slide=id.p

See photos below from one of our experiments

Comments:

Adrian B.
5 June 2018 11:02

Hi Alistair and the Middle School Peer Mentoring Team!

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:

Strengths:

I love how you've focused on mentoring as a way to increase access to opportunities for low-income students. Educational support is vital--as are networks and communities. This is a powerful way to address this injustice!

I also admire how you've talked about learning from and listening to the students you've been working with. It's so important to center their ideas, needs, and perspectives when you're creating a program for them.

Things to consider:

Have you thought about ways to involve the students you serve in leadership on this program? What are ways they could be directly involved in planning?

I strongly encourage you to dig deeper into the root causes of the injustice and the perspectives of people directly affected by this injustice as the program grows. Check out the Understand tools to work more on this. https://www.peacefirst.org/projects/test-project-3/dashboard/understand-injustice

Thanks so much for this important work--we can tell you made a huge impact! We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!

Best,
Adrian  

Alistair S.
23 February 2018 12:54

Thank you Dalton! That's great news. We will be sure to keep you updated about our progress!  

Dalton B.
22 February 2018 12:09

Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

Strengths:
Setting a specific and long-term for implementing the project, this could be important for the sustainability of the project. You also demonstrate a huge effort to collaborate and engage with parents, guardians, and teachers at P.S./M.S. 161.

Things to Consider:
For this specific challenge, we'd like to see the more short term goals that fit within our timeline - what are your 3 month goals for this work?

And please note that reflections for this project will be due on May 31, so even if your project is not fully complete is still on-going, we'd like to hear about your impact and what you've learned through that reflection! Great job!!

Congratulations and best of luck with your project!  

Amani A.
16 February 2018 14:03

Glad to see that the feedback was useful to you, Alistair! I would really encourage you to re-visit the compassionate insight and use the resources I shared with you. It's important to make the insight as clear as possible so that other Peace First members will understand it.  

Alistair S.
15 February 2018 8:31

Thank you for your feedback. It is very useful for helping us to formulate our thoughts.

I think the issue at play is lack of educational opportunities for those from low-income communities, and that the peer mentoring and tutoring program is a way to solving this injustice. We will be sure to articulate this more clearly in our project plan.  

Amani A.
12 February 2018 16:48

Thanks for posting your project, Alistair!

As part of the process of completing peacemaking projects, Peace First staff give formal feedback on important steps of the project. One of those steps is the compassionate insight.

I enjoyed reading your project and what are trying to achieve! My understanding from what I read is that there's a lack of peer mentoring programs across high and middle schools in New York City, right? Is this the issue that you want to solve or you are trying to solve the lack of educational opportunities issue? Why is this an important issue in your community?

It would be great to try to make your insight as clear as you can, so that other Peace First members would understand it better! You can use the compassionate tool here: https://www.peacefirst.org/resource/understand-4-compassionate-insight, which will help you in re-writing your compassionate insight.

We would also encourage everyone who is at this stage of their project to work towards deepening their understanding of the injustice they're focusing on. Thus, it would be great to use the problem and solution tree to discover the root causes and consequences of your chosen injustice and it will guide you to more solutions. Here are some resources on how to do that: https://www.peacefirst.org/understand-through-compassion

You would need to get started now to be eligible for a mini-grant. Thanks again for sharing your project with Peace First members, and we are looking forward to your next steps of the project!

Please let us know if you need any help with this!