Noblesville Schools Mentorship Program Positively Impacts Students • Current Edition

A mentorship program offered in Noblesville schools that pairs community members with students with an emphasis on developing positive relationships is growing steadily.

The program, known as Compass Mentoring, was launched a year ago and is designed to help students expand their access to caring adults while building their strengths, said Nicole McClain, mentors coordinator at schools. of Nobleville.

Currently, the program is currently offered in five elementary schools and one of two middle schools in the district, but the hope is that it can eventually be expanded to seven elementary schools and both middle schools, McClain said.

McClain noted that part of her job is to work with school counselors and school social workers to identify students who could benefit from having a trusted adult in their lives. From then on, McClain said she worked with community members.

“Through common interests, personality traits, we make these matches and have fun,” she said.

Individuals selected as mentors after passing an extensive background check meet with students for approximately 30-45 minutes every two weeks during the school year. Materials and training are provided to mentors, according to McClain.

“We’re looking for more mentors who are just passionate about working with our students,” McClain said. “Really, we ran it by the students, which is what they care about…and we like to individualize each game.”

The program, which started with eight students, is now serving 30 people this school year, according to McClain, who hopes to see that number increase over time.

Rob Bocko, a father of four, is a program mentor and was paired with 9-year-old Cooper Bonesho, who attends Noble Crossing Elementary School, during the program’s first year. Bonesho’s mother, Brittany, is an elementary school kindergarten teacher.

“When I saw (the program) I thought, ‘That looks kind of fun,’ Bocko said. “It’s about showing up and being yourself…we don’t have never really had an agenda.”

Occasionally, Bocko and the young student would discuss school materials from a book when they met every two weeks. However, he noted that “a lot of it is about being consistent, being authentic, and having a conversation.”

Bocko said that in his discussions with Bonesho he tried to find out what things the student was looking forward to or what might have been a challenge. But Bocko also stressed that it wasn’t just about his presence, saying he would also share things he was also working on in his life.

“There are things I’m continually trying to improve at and just be real,” Bocko said.

One thing the two individuals have in common is the game of chess.

“This kid is pretty sharp, don’t overdo it, he’s pretty sharp,” Bocko said with a smile.

That sentiment was echoed by the fourth-year student, who said he enjoys having discussions about life in general with Bocko whenever they meet.

“We were talking about how our week went,” he said.

Bocko also said that as a mentor he tried to focus their discussions on the future of the youngsters.

“I’m just one piece of a larger web of supportive relationships and I think that’s important in any child’s life,” Bocko said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it and it was a pleasure to get to know this young man.”

Brittany Bonesho also said she saw a change in her son as an individual through his interactions with Bocko.

“I think he’s really conquered a lot of his fears and I think that has a lot to do with meeting Rob and his confidence in himself and meeting another adult who is a trusted advisor in his life,” she said.

Bocko also encouraged other adults to get involved and have a positive impact on students’ lives.

“If you’re real and ready to be a friend, you’ve got what it takes,” he said. “It’s so awesome. It’s a very good time.

Fourth grader Cooper Bonesho smiles as he prepares to punch his mentor Rob Bocko in the hallway of Noble Crossing Elementary School. (Photo by Matthew Kent)

Where to find out more

For more information on the Compass Mentoring program or to participate as a mentor, contact Mentor Coordinator Nicole McClain via email [email protected]. Information can also be found by visiting https://www.noblesvilleschools.org/Page/8363.

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