The introduction of the vertical wellbeing structure has enabled us to drastically revamp Mentor sessions (previously known as CARE) to ensure staff and students are encouraged to build meaningful relationships and foster a sense of connection at St Margaret’s School. Our goal is that each House is an emerging community in which students are known, heard, seen and valued by House staff. At the core of this approach is the role of the Mentor.
A Mentor is similar in many ways to the role of the previous CARE teacher; however, the Mentor now acts as the first point of call for students and families and refers students to other systems of support within the school. This increased focus on the Mentor-student bond provides another trusted adult that will progress with students throughout their high school journey.
Our initial focus in Mentor sessions has been on establishing this connection through a series of structured activities; getting to know each other by doing. We began this process with a letter writing activity where each student wrote to a student in the year level below to impart their learned experiences. The Mentor also wrote to Year 12 students in their group sharing their wisdom about how to get the best possible start to their final year at St Margaret’s.
This aim of fostering cross-age friendships has continued in our weekly House Meetings led by the Year 12 House Captains. Rather than celebrate Valentine’s Day, we embraced Galentine’s Day with a specific focus on celebrating individual differences. Each Mentor group ran a speed dating activity where girls spent one minute getting to know a student in another year level. At the end of the time, each person wrote a compliment on a sticky note for their partner. The House Captains collated these responses and displayed the final product in the designated House locker bays.
Sherril Gurney, David Bennett and Whitney Stiles
Head of House (Gipson, Cunningham and Campbell)