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Several eighth grade students at Benjamin Franklin Middle School are participating in a peer mentoring program entitled Peer Academic Leadership (PAL). School Counselor, Ms. Eve Klein, has paired high performing students with students who have demonstrated challenges with homework completion, study skills, time management, or academic performance. The PAL student mentors are meeting with Ms. Klein once per month to prepare for their monthly mentoring sessions with their PAL partners.

There are several benefits of peer tutoring, both for the mentors and the mentees. PAL students who are mentored by their peers may benefit by increased confidence and self esteem, improved communication and social skills, a greater understanding of utilizing resources, guidance from their peers, and potentially improvement in academic achievement. PAL mentors will have the opportunity for self reflection about their own educational and career path, receive well earned recognition, improve interpersonal skills, and increase their understanding about others’ challenges, thus developing empathy and sensitivity.

Topics for PAL: meetings will include (but are not limited to) study skills and memory tricks, balancing school and social life, accessing assistance from resources, overcoming obstacles, and connecting present habits with future opportunities.

The PAL program commenced in December, 2013 and we are now in our second year. We are currently gathering feedback from our students about how to improve the program and have more students utilize peer tutoring during recess time.

PAL students were selected based on first marking period report card grades and/or teacher recommendation. All PAL mentors earned straight A’s during the first marking period and achieved Principal’s Honor Roll. Many are members of multiple school based and community based extracurricular groups, sports, or clubs. Mentors have comments on progress and report cards such as excellent achievement, best effort, and respected class member. All mentees earned at least two D’s or F’s in their core subjects. These students also had comments on their progress reports and report cards indicating the need for more consistency with homework and project completion, better preparation for quizzes and tests, issues with behaviors and excessive socializing, and/or incomplete requirements.
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