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Maynard Jackson Students Mentoring Students at Wesley International Academy Charter School

(left) WIA eighth grader and (right) MJHS junior talk about school and get to know one another during the first meeting of the peer mentorship program. Photo by Shannon Sanders

By Shannon Sanders
As part of the larger efforts in the community to form alliances and collaboration with area schools, an exciting peer mentorship program has been established. Maynard Jackson High School (MJHS) college bound students are mentoring high school bound eighth grade students from Wesley International Academy (WIA).
This program provides WIA eighth graders a glimpse into high school life and establishes a relationship with a local high school.  The peer mentorship was jointly developed by Lola Azuana, Director of the College Bound Center at MJHS and Erica Jong, an East Atlanta resident and WIA parent.  In late October, the pilot mentorship program debuted with all 27 WIA eighth graders touring the MJHS campus and engaging in activities to foster interaction between the students.  WIA eighth graders were paired with MJHS seniors and some juniors who are all excelling academically and are college bound.  The students had lunch together on the MJHS campus to build a better bond between the peers.
To understand and work together to help their community, the students will participate in a Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service project.  In the late spring, they will meet again to talk about their upcoming high school and college attendance.  In the interim, the peers are encouraged to email each other and use a web blog which offers opportunities to share ideas and thoughts about high school, graduation, college, school issues and more.  These relationships are meant to expose the eighth graders to positive peer role models while offering the high school students satisfaction in sharing their experiences and making valuable impressions on younger peers.
Regardless of whether the WIA students will attend MJHS, it is an ideal partnership for this program because of  its proximity to WIA, MJHS’s candidacy for International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme and its Chinese language program.  WIA is also a candidate school for the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and has a strong Mandarin Chinese program beginning in Kindergarten. Building a relationship between the two schools is a significant step in building collaborative communication between southeast schools and supporting current and future WIA eighth graders as they prepare to advance on to a high school.

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