Mentors to work with 8th graders on staying in school

A new Mentor-Scholar Program will pair as many as 75 SUNY Oswego students with Oswego Middle School students identified as at risk of dropping out before graduation.

A state Education Department report on graduation rates found that of the Oswego City School District students who began high school in 2006, 11 percent had dropped out by 2010 while 73 percent of their peers graduated with Regents or local diplomas. The remainder were still trying or had converted to other diploma programs, such as the GED.

The program will start with at-risk students in Oswego Middle School’s eighth grade, and plans to support them through high school.

“We’re trying to build their self-confidence, build their self-efficacy, give them their own tools to be effective students and, down the road, to be good citizens,” said Michael Marr ’08, who leads the program as part of his AmeriCorps-VISTA service. “We’ll be working on homework, working on study skills, working on interpersonal skills.”

SUNY Oswego students taking an upper-division service-learning course will receive two credit hours on completion of a yearlong mentoring assignment and other course requirements. Each college student will meet with a middle school partner twice a week for about an hour each session.

“Some of these eighth-graders are right at the point where they’re asking themselves, ‘Is secondary education for me?’” Marr said. “If we can catch them right at this early point, if we can get them valuing education — valuing it as a way
of progressing their lives —then we can drastically decrease their chances of dropping out later on.

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