- Valley Forge High School
Parma Senior High School RISE program supports eighth grade students
June 1, 2020
Creating meaningful relationships and having a great support system can make a difference in a student’s high school career.
Parma Senior High School recognized this need and created the peer mentoring group RISE, or Relationships Inspire and Support Excellence, this school year for students.
The program matches eight-graders who may be struggling with an upperclassman that can relate or had a similar eighth-grade experience and help them through it.
There are about 30 eighth-grade mentees and about 30 upperclassmen mentors, with the one-to-one program only beginning in January.
Each month, mentors are given ideas and topics to build their relationship with their mentees. The mentor is asked to check-in at least once a week. Some weeks there are longer hang out sessions, while other weeks are just quick meetings to share something positive.
“We really want the relationship between the mentor and the mentee to be organic,” described Parma Senior High Intervention Specialist Robert Bammerlin, who helped start the program. “There really is no teacher involved, it’s just mentee and mentor.”
He added that there is a core group of staff that help the mentors, create topics of discussion and offer support to the program.
RISE is truly a collaborative effort with support from Bammerlin, Parma High Assistant Principal Stephanie Nicola, Home Liaison Christopher Petitti, Guidance Counselor Denise Pizem, Dean of Students Maria Gingo, Assistant Principal Paul Gerycz and the eighth-grade teaching staff.
“We tried to find upperclassmen who matched well with some of our eighth graders in this program,” Bammerlin explained. “So they aren’t necessarily the leaders of the school or in National Honor Society, we do have those students, but they are students who maybe were struggling in eighth and ninth grade with behavior and grades. Then they made a nice turnaround and have shown a lot of improvement in their junior and senior year. We wanted to find students who were most relatable to our eighth graders.”
There have been a lot of positives in the two months the program was active in the school before the school closures, Bammerlin shared, including students asking for mentors.
“There is a need for it and the upperclassmen want to make a difference in their school,” he added. “Studies have shown that peer-to-peer mentoring is 85 percent more effective than teacher-to-student mentoring, so I think we are on the right track.”
The project is data-driven, so the school hopes to see an improvement in grades, behavior and attendance. Bammerlin would like to see the program continue for at least three years to evaluate the progress.
Halle Dawson, an eighth-grade teacher at Parma High, believes the RISE program will make an impact in the school.
“The RISE program will be very beneficial to students who are struggling with the high school way of life,” she shared. “So many students need guidance, but don’t know how to ask for it and certainly don’t want to talk to adults. I hope students find a trustworthy mentor they might be able to confide in, along with the mentor being able to learn valuable leadership and communication skills.”
“I also hope students take it seriously and can form valuable relationships,” she added. “The compassion created by these relationships will hopefully be spilled across the school, making PSH a positive environment filled with many caring students.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Parma Senior High School created the RISE program, or Relationships Inspire and Support Excellence. The program matches eighth grade students with an upperclassman to provide help and support.