Zach and Andrew Marley work together at a discovery box during the last mentoring session of the year between students from Homer Middle School and Paul Banks Elementary School on Monday, May 14, 2018 at the middle school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)

Zach and Andrew Marley work together at a discovery box during the last mentoring session of the year between students from Homer Middle School and Paul Banks Elementary School on Monday, May 14, 2018 at the middle school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)

Students participate in their last mentoring session of the year

All year long, students from Paul Banks Elementary School and Homer Middle School have been enjoying a growing relationship as the elder students mentored and taught the younger. The program that brings them together had its last session of the school year on Monday.

The brain child of Paul Banks’ Wendy Todd and Homer Middle’s Jennifer Booz, along with other teachers at the middle school, the mentor program gained formality only recently. Todd has been bringing her kindergarten and first grade students to learn from older ones for years.

On Monday at Homer Middle School, the youngsters teamed up with Bonnie Jason’s seventh graders to write poetry about the sea.

“This spring, the (seventh) graders at (the school) have been studying, memorizing and writing poems,” Jason wrote in an email. “They’ve been introduced to classic poems by famous American and English poets, as well as newer poems by local poet Wendy Erd.”

Over in science class, the seventh graders have spent weeks getting ready to participate in a global census project that involves collecting data on intertidal ecosystems, Jason wrote. The last mentor session combined these two areas of study for Todd’s first graders, who have themselves been studying poetry, rhyming and patterns this quarter, Todd wrote.

“I asked the kids to apply what they’ve learned about poetic techniques to their current studies of intertidal life in science,” Jason wrote. “I created discovery boxes that hid intertidal organisms and other low tide treasures.”

From there, the older students took notes while their young mentees dictated what they could feel inside the boxes with their hands. The pairs of students turned the notes the seventh graders took into fully fledged poems.

For Todd, the rewards of having her students interact with older counterparts are great. The first graders she has now participated in the same mentor program last year, and have therefore had two full years of learning and communicating with older students.

“The increase in communication skills and confidence were huge from the beginning of last year until this spring,” Todd wrote. “They walked into the middle school with such confidence yesterday and got right to work thinking, creating and exploring with their partners.”

Todd said the program will continue next year with a new group of Paul Banks students. She said she’s trying to encourage others to get involved in the program, too.

The idea does appear to be catching on, as Fireweed Academy hosted Homer High School students who were alumni of the charter school to mentor its current students last month.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

Niko Sulczynski (right) and his partner Aleksea Yatchmeneff (left) show off their finished poem during the last mentoring meeting between students from Paul Banks Elementary and Homer Middle School on Monday, May 14, 2018 at the middle school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)

Niko Sulczynski (right) and his partner Aleksea Yatchmeneff (left) show off their finished poem during the last mentoring meeting between students from Paul Banks Elementary and Homer Middle School on Monday, May 14, 2018 at the middle school in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided)

More in News

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

The 2021 elections will be held Oct. 5.
Homer City Council candidate Q&A

On Tuesday, Oct. 5, elections will be held for Homer City Council,… Continue reading

Traffic moves north along the Sterling Highway shortly after a fatal crash closed the highway for several hours Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. The state is seeking federal funding for a project aimed at improving safety along the Sterling Highway between mileposts 82.5 to 94, or between Sterling and Soldotna. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
State looks to federal funding for Sterling Highway project

The project is aimed at improving highway safety between Sterling and Soldotna.

Ethan Benton (left) and Laura Walters of Kodiak win the vaccine lottery for the Alaska Chamber's week one vaccine lottery giveaway "Give AK a Shot." (Screenshot)
State names winners in 1st vaccine lottery

A Valdez and Kodiak resident took home checks for $49,000 each.

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion
A podium marks the beginning of a StoryWalk at Soldotna Creek Park on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. The project was discontinued in August due to vandalism.
Vandalism ends Soldotna library program

The StoryWalk was made possible by a $2,500 donation from the Soldotna Library Friends.

Juneau Empire file
The Coast Guard medevaced a 90-year-old suffering stroke-like symptoms near Ketchikan aboard a 45-foot response boat-medium like this one, seen in Juneau, on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Coast Guard medevacs man from yacht near Ketchikan

The 90-year-old suffered symptoms of a stroke.

James Varsos, also known as “Hobo Jim,” poses for a photo during the August 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)
‘Hobo Jim’ opens up about recent terminal cancer diagnosis

Varsos was named Alaska’s official “state balladeer” in 1994.

Most Read