Nooksack Valley Middle and High School, August – September 2020

2020 Fall start-up

The 2020 school year start-up followed a summer of questions, anticipation, hopes, disappointment, shifting plans and possibilities. Some frequent questions were:  

  • When will we go back to school?
  • Will we ever go back to school?
  • Will it be live or virtual?
  • Will I be able to meet with my mentor?
  • How will students be impacted?
  • When can I meet with my student?
  • Will we have to wear masks?
  • How will families cope?
  • When will I get to see my friends?
  • How long will this last?
  • How can we help each other?

 Among the many responses were (match as works best for you):

  • As soon as safely possible.
  • The school leadership teams are working on plans and programs for numerous possibilities.
  • Yes.
  • With patience, grace and by helping each other.

The reality is:

  • We are back in school with most students and staff connecting virtually. Our staff has been trained and supported to make the most of this difficult situation.
  • A limited number of students have returned to school (returning students are those with identified needs and our ability to best match supports). Our hope is that we will be able to continue to increase the number of students on campus soon.
  • Families, community leaders and organizations are creatively working to support students and staff.
  • Our leadership continues to focus on supporting the realities of each day while preparing for changes that will be coming soon and will eventually bring students back to campus.

So, what is happening with mentoring?

  • Our focus through mentoring continues to be supporting students in their daily school life and helping them prepare for their best possible future. Currently this is primarily happening virtually.
  • We are working to restart as many matches as possible (virtually).
  • Area coordinators are meeting and working to prepare and present tools to support mentors and help strengthen virtual mentoring. Much of this effort focused on the September “Welcome Back” webinar for mentors from six county schools.
  • I met with Laura Mendoza, new program coordinator Washington Mentors.
  • Helped some matches through varied transitions.
  • Worked to bring some new mentors on board. One new match!
  • Worked with people from a variety local organizations to develop ways to support students in this critical moment.
  • Prepared for coming shifts, including a return to most students being on campus.

 Looking ahead:

  • Maximizing supporting and facilitating virtual matches.
  • Work with area coordinators to address unique needs of this moment including presenting a mentor support and training webinar focused on current critical concerns.

Submitted by Jim Schmotzer

To Partners for Schools board members via Nancy McHarness

Copies to: Chuck & Leeann Handy, Mark Johnson, Matt Galley, Joel VanderYacht, Lisa Reynolds, Brian Clemmer, Annie Anderson, Stacey Martin, Tim Newcomb, Doug DeVries