Mandatory Mentoring Bringing Good Results at West Morgan High

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – There’s a high school in Morgan County where students are required to have a mentor.

After four years of the program, staff members at the school say it’s allowed teachers to move beyond teaching core subjects and connect on an even more important level.

Students at West Morgan High School spend hours in class learning academics.

But staff members believe the best kind of learning may be happening during ten-minute meetings students have before class.

“Our students come in and they have a focus teacher and we meet for ten minutes each day,” said West Morgan High School Principal Keith Harris.  “What we’re trying to get accomplished out of it is simply building a relationship between our students and our teachers.”

He said this is the fourth year for the school’s mentoring program and he believes the knowledge gained in those ten minutes creates a much better learning environment.

“It’s important, we feel like, for each one of our students to have at least one adult in our school that the kids feel like they can talk to, whether it be positive or negative,” said Harris.

English teacher Brandi Ashby said, “It’s fun to build a relationship with them, throughout the years, and see them grow up.”

She meets with 17 different students.  Each student is assigned a mentor in their freshman year and stays with that person until graduation.

Teachers like Ashby use the ten minutes to build trust, communication and things not included in an academic lesson plan.

“We also do things to build character, and kinda learn about our kids and get to know their parents better,” said Ashby.

Teachers also meet once a month with their student’s parents.  They say it provides a better understanding of where students are coming from–physically and emotionally.

“If you don’t really know who your kids are, you can’t really help them more,” said Ashby.

Morgan County Superintendent Bill Hopkins started the mentoring program four years ago at West Morgan High School when he was principal there and has since expanded it to other schools.

It goes along with the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” a learning approach Hopkins put in place throughout the district.