Doing What Matters
How it All Started
In 2017, a sophomore at Algoma High School conducted a survey of the public school students, grades 2nd through 6th. The survey was created to analyze the academic, social, and emotional needs of the selected grade levels. The results were to be used to assess the need for a cross-age mentorship program in the school district. Given the obtained data, the students felt compelled to do something and began collaborating with others to take action.
We first decided to collaborate with an external organization that specializes in creating cross-age mentorship matches. As part of this process, high school students - specifically sophomores and juniors - were recruited to be mentors through a series of presentations and personal invitations. This resulted in the acquisition of 24 mentors. In a follow-up meeting with our external affiliates, we realized the plan they offered was not economically feasible and did not fit our desired time frame. It was decided to break away from the organization and, instead, create our own mentoring program: Wolves and Pups.
Our school mascot and theme inspired the naming of our mentors as "Wolves" and our mentees, "Pups". Pups are selected based on their social and emotional scores from the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS). Their current services being recieved are also taken into consideration.
In order to get a better understanding of how to create matches, a "Speed Dating" event was held where the Wolves ran a variety of fun activities and socialized with the Pups. Many matches were evident by the end of the day, and a meeting was conducted to formally create all of the matches.
The program was officially launched early November, 2017. Prior to the launch date, the mentors signed and turned in a commitment form, agreeing to meet with their Pups twice a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes. The Program had 24 Wolf-Pup pairs, many of which met during a lunch or recess period.
Today, the program has 39 Wolf-Pup pairs that meet for an hour, twice a week. Our high school mentors have a designated time in their schedule to meet with their Pup instead of missing lunch or class. The Pups are also allowed to leave the classroom with their Wolf so that they can have one-on-one time.
Wolves and Pups
After beginning the Wolves and Pups Mentoring Program, we realized many of the Pups could benefit from more than just a mentor. This began the idea of an After School Program: Wolf Den.
Wolf Den supplies students with tools and opportunities to increase their social and emotional capacity, practice basic life skills, and develop a growth mindset in a safe and productive environment. Through this program, the students acquire skills used to manage stress and adversity as well as to have their self-care needs met. They also develop relationships with peers, high school students, and community members.
The Wolf Den After School Program began in December of 2018 and is now in its second year. Many of the children invited to Wolf Den are also involved in the Wolves & Pups Mentorship Program. An average of 30 Pups attend the program Monday through Thursday, 3:00 to 5:00. The students take part in a variety of activities throughout the program and end the day with a meal.
For some of these children, receiving a meal after school is necessary for their well being. Our meals are donated by community three days our of the four every week. Every Wednesday, the high school foods class supplies a meal. An unforeseen outcome of the meal donations was the relationship that students developed with community members. We had anticipated growth in the students social skills among their peers and the high school students present at Wolf Den and we were pleased to see the students establish ties within the community. Community members have fallen in love with the program and keep coming back to see the kids at Wolf Den.