Quest Elementary, Viera High partner for mentorship program


A new mentorship program that pairs students from Quest Elementary School and Viera High School could have a big impact on some future Hawks.

The partnership between the two schools began late last month.

Quest school counselor Christi Barton, who helped run a similar program while at Croton Elementary, said the program — known as Hangin’ with the Hawks — is designed to help students who might need to “build a little confidence, or they might not quite feel that they fit in.”

Between 16 and 18 Quest students in fourth grade to sixth grade are expected to take part in the program, which meets once a week for 30 minutes before school begins. They can play games with their mentors, or simply sit and talk. The idea being, of course, that it will be easier for them to open up to someone closer to their own age.

“We worked with staff to select the students that we thought would benefit most from having a slightly older peer role model,” said Beth Cooper, another Quest school counselor. “The group is specifically tailored to the students who we felt could benefit most from that relationship.

“… It’s a super powerful relationship. Our students don’t see them as adults.”

Though the program had not yet started by press time, it already was generating a buzz around the campus of both schools.

“I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the teachers. They’re excited because they’ve never had something like that at Quest,” Barton said. “They’re very positive and hopeful that we can spread it and grow it, help give our kids a sense of belonging.”

The partnership between Quest and Viera seemed only natural given that many Quest students will eventually move on to Viera High.

Barton credited Quest principal Christy Boyd with coming up with the idea for the mentorship program and Viera assistant principal and Dean of Students Theresa Benson for helping identify 18 juniors and seniors to help serve as mentors.

“Theresa has a heart for elementary students,” Barton said. “Her background is in that area. I found the perfect person to (partner with). She went and advertised to juniors and seniors at Viera, met with them individually to explain how valuable being a mentor is to a young child.

“She even had them fill out personality things, goals, so we could really pair up our students with hers and get the personality traits that would be the most positive together.”

While Quest teachers and administrators are excited about the potential impact of the program, Benson is equally enthusiastic about what the experience will be like for the mentors from Viera High.

“The Hangin' with the Hawks Mentor Program gives our students at VHS an opportunity to give back to the community as strong, positive leaders for our future Hawks at Quest Elementary,” Benson wrote in an email. “Part of the mentors’ commitment will be to lend a supportive ear, share smiles, school experiences and help in ways so that our younger students can build confidence for success.

“Our mentors were recommended by their teachers because of the positive leadership qualities they demonstrate every day. We are excited to build these bridges and make positive connections in our school community. I am so proud to be a part of this partnership with Quest Elementary.”

After going through an orientation session, Viera High senior Quez Menyfield said he was looking forward to the start of the program.

“I feel like I’m giving back to the community and helping kids through a positive way of communication,” he said. “I think getting to know these kids, and knowing that I’m making a difference in their lives, is a great reward.

“Our first day meeting with the kids is (Feb. 20). I’m ready to get started. I would’ve taken full advantage of this opportunity if I had it as a kid growing up so I hope that we can make a difference!”