Tech Launches 3rd-Grade Mentoring Program

Tech Launches 3rd-Grade Mentoring Program

NMT Partners With Socorro Schools And Mentoring Program

SOCORRO, N.M. – Since the launch of a new outreach program with Socorro third-graders, 11 New Mexico Tech students have been working after school to mentor 23 local youngsters every week.

Administrators from the university, the local school district, and MATCH New Mexico mentoring organization officially signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in late September to make the program official.

"One of the things identified in New Mexico Tech's Strategic Plan is to have more involvement with the community through outreach," said Dr. Sharon Sessions, the NMT liaison to the school district. "This partnership with the Socorro School district and MATCH New Mexico is an excellent opportunity to meet this goal." 

Socorro Consolidated Schools board member Carlos Vega discovered MATCH New Mexico at a conference in Santa Fe in the spring. Shortly thereafter, Dr. John Graham, the founder of MATCH New Mexico, visited with Socorro school administrators and Dr. Sessions, to discuss starting the mentoring program in Socorro. Similar programs already exist in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos.  Over the summer, the three groups began to identify resources help support the program. 

During the first week of the fall 2016, Graham and Sessions solicited applications from interested students through a general email to all students and during the Community Fair at Fidel Center. They then hosted an information session with the Tech students, and Dr. Graham led an all-day orientation on how to engage third-graders, how to mentor, and offered guidance on educational activities. In the meantime, Anton Salome, Assistant Superintendent of Socorro Consolidated Schools, worked with teachers, parents, and administrators to coordinate the effort on the school's end. 

"This has been a very inspiring process," Sessions said.  "The most important part is the amazing cooperation between the educational entities in Socorro. Everyone is so positive and helpful."

Tech students are now working two hours a day twice a week, either one-on-one or in small groups. In addition to gaining experience in education and outreach, the Techies are paid for their work. They are also enrolled in a "Mentoring and Leadership" course to help them be strong mentors and to contribute to their professional development.

"Tech students will have four hours a week to work with their mentees," Sessions said. "They aren't just sitting down and reading.  They do brain engagement exercises; they are making friends, offering support, and teaching kids about science. The third graders will have snacks and drinks so that they are focused on the activities."

The parents of third-graders also receive materials, and get to meet the mentors and the MATCH New Mexico staff. Parents also receive special training to enhance the mentoring program through activities at home.

"A lot of pieces came together to make this happen," Sessions said.  "We have significant contributions from all three organizations. This is a sustainable program because of the unique pool of resources we have brought together, including support from the Federal Work Study program, Title I funding, and the overall framework of the program.  We are hope that this will be a model for the rest of the state."

– NMT –