Creative Mentoring Feature: Fueling Minds Mentoring Program

The Windsor Public Schools’ Fueling Minds Mentoring Program is launching a new virtual mentoring initiative, using the techniques and guidance that The Governor’s Prevention Partnership established at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although it began informally ten years ago, “Fueling Minds Mentoring” has recently undergone a major revamping process.  Last year, the program drafted plans to re-establish an initiative that supports a district-wide Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS) approach. “Fueling Minds Mentoring” ensures that students have a caring adult relationship adhering to the Elements of Effective Mentoring. Staff currently is undergoing training by The Partnership. Katie Maxwell is the brand-new mentoring Coordinator for the program, which is coordinated by the Office of Family and Community Partnerships in the Windsor Public Schools.

Fueling Minds is a program of the Office of Family and Community Partnerships. Christina L. Morales, MSW is the Coordinator of Partnerships. The Office enhances student achievement through improved collaborative partnerships, develops capacity of families, schools, business partners and community members they serve. Fueling Minds, a one-on-one school-based initiative currently matches five veteran retirees from the professional community with mentees.  Until the pandemic closed schools, the mentors met one hour/week with their mentee at the assigned school, usually in the Family Resource Center. Windsor hopes to recruit a maximum of 60 mentors in the Fall, 20 to be assigned to each of three schools where mentoring takes place: students in grades 3-5 at Clover Street and John F. Kennedy Elementary schools and grades 6-8 at Sage Park Middle School.

The program has some ambitious goals for the Fall. They will concentrate on recruiting mentors that best reflect the diverse population of the school district. The 3,500 students are 25.5% white; 43.7% Black; 19.7 Hispanic and Latino, 4.4% Asian and 6.4% two or more races.  In addition, students will be matched in one of three categories of need based on MTSS, a Multi-Tiered Student Systems approach used by the school district. The program’s vision is to assess each mentee’s needs. Those showing signs of needing support will be matched with young professionals, community members and college students.  Students who have discipline issues or require academic support will be matched with veteran professionals from businesses who have the skills to work with them. Mentees who are identified as high need/intensive support will be matched with health professionals.

Morales explained how the mentoring component this Fall will operate since visitors will not be allowed into schools. “Mentees in grades 3-8 will go to the Family Resource Center at their assigned mentoring hour, typically during non-instructional time such as lunch or after school with their Chromebooks in hand. The Center coordinator will assist them in setting up their computer and meeting virtually with their mentor. This will occur on Google Meets or Google Hangouts, carefully monitored by each school’s Family Resource Center coordinator. Mentoring will be a real partnership with the centers”, Morales commented. It should be noted that this past Spring, the school system gave out 800 Chromebooks and I-pads for pre K-8; and 1100 Chromebooks for high school students.

The Governor’s Prevention Partnership builds statewide capacity to prevent underage drinking and substance use and builds strategic alliances to promote the overall well-being of Connecticut’s future workforce.