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Peer-to-peer mentoring takes off
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LARGO - In an effort to create successful high school experiences for freshmen, the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program is being rolled out at high schools throughout the district.

Six high schools – Boca Ciega, Gibbs, Lakewood, Largo, Northeast and St. Petersburg – are using the peer-to-peer mentoring model to help younger students navigate the high school experience.

“Mentors are a critical component to ensuring student success,” said Michael A. Grego in a press release. Grego is superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. “The guidance and insight offered by peer mentors is especially valuable to students, who receive support from people who can really relate to them.”

The Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Program matches high school sophomores, juniors and seniors with freshmen. The program, in alignment with the districtąs strategic plan, is intended to give freshmen and some sophomores the skills and tools they need to succeed in high school.

Peer mentors share their own experiences to help students learn about topics ranging from school rules and culture to study habits and course selection. The program also offers students in upper grades the opportunity to hone leadership and communication skills while earning volunteer hours applicable to Bright Futures Scholarships or other volunteer hour requirements.

Alexis Franco, a sophomore at Largo High School became a peer mentor through her role in Largo Leaders, a student advisory group that meets regularly with school Principal Brad Finkbiner to discuss school improvement. Franco mentors a ninth-grader.

“We talk about what classes she struggles in and I talk to her about my experiences my freshman year and how I found solutions with the problems I had,” Franco said.

Being a mentor, Franco said, has helped her “come out of her shell” and become a better listener. And her mentee benefits from having a new friend who can help guide her through new experiences, she said.
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