Public/Private Partnerships aren't new in many parts of the public sector. But in education, they tend to be incredibly rare. That's why Brian Lee, the Director of Student Services at St. George's School and Tamara Maxim, a teacher in Windermere's Life Skills class, are particularly excited about a very special program they've developed together. This program connects St. George's students with developmentally challenged students from Windermere's Life Skills program.
The program aims to pair off student mentors with mentees for visits every two to three weeks. This year, there are 13 Windermere students involved who meet with eight St. George's mentors. This year's activities include students painting masks together, the group listening to theme based stories, making friendship fruit kabobs and working in a ceramics studio creating masks. The group also visited a Metro Vancouver pumkin patch together in the fall and prior to the holidays, the Windermere students made beeswax candles for their St. George's mentors as gifts.
Maxim says her students are very connected to their mentors and look forward to every visit.
"It means so much for all of them to have friendship and time to spend with similar aged peers, no matter what the differences are between them," she says. "As Windermere staff, we see that all the kids are benefiting from building these special relationships as the year progresses. We all feel very fortunate to be part of such a special group of kids."
As part of the Each One,Teach One Mentorship Program at St. George's, Lee says his students have had great opportunity to develop relationships with others whom they might not otherwise work with. He says it has been a wonderful experience witnessing the growth in both sets of students in a relatively short period of time.
"Regardless of differences or social boundaries, kids are kids and all have needs. It is incumbent upon us as educators to try to find a way to help our students grow, particularly outside of their comfort zone. We tend to do things within our own circles, however there are plenty of opportunities when we venture outside," says Lee.
He says that due to its success and interest levels, the Each One, Teach One Mentorship Program is expected to expand to other communities in the coming years.
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