Walk through the halls of Liberty Middle School on any given day and
you’re likely to find a sea of “kindness cards” gracing the walls.
In class, students automatically sit down and pull out their supplies without any prompting from the teacher. At recess, five girls stand huddled together. They didn’t really talk much before, but now that they know more about each other, they’re self-proclaimed “new best friends.”
In lunch, students clamor for a chance to hug or high five a
mentor from Liberty High School and tell him or her about their
upcoming basketball game or plans to bake cookies for a friend.
These are just a few of the tangible signs that Liberty Middle
School (LMS) is living up to its mission to help its students set
goals, build character and develop a kind and respectful attitude.
In January, LMS introduced a mentoring program that matches
Liberty High School seniors with middle school students. Mentors
act more like siblings or friends, rather than parents or
teachers, and visit students during lunch to spend time together.
Students may talk about class, do homework or talk about their
personal concerns, but it’s also perfectly fine to shoot hoops or
play on the playground.
“I thought that our students could benefit from seeing high school
students as role models. We like to have seniors serve as mentors,
because the middle schoolers can easily relate to their peers in
high school,” LMS Interim Assistant Principal Arleene Siegel said.
“I think they feel more secure talking to their peers who recently
went through what they are facing now.”
Before they become mentors, seniors take part in training sessions
provided by Thomas J. Ellison, Prevention Specialist at the
Sullivan County BOCES that guides mentors on their roles,
responsibilities and ways to build relationships and strengthen
listening skills. The mentoring program also counts towards
“I think the program is fantastic because students from both
schools benefit. Our seniors are learning that helping others through community service can not only be fun, but uplifting,” Liberty Middle/High School Principal Jack Strassman said.
In the coming weeks, the mentoring program will extend to middle
school reading classes.
For more information about the mentoring program, contact the
middle school’s main office.