COAST CITIES — As the school year comes to an end, so does another successful year of the Study Buddy program. For more than 18 years, San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth has sponsored this program, which is a cross-age peer mentor/tutor after-school program where high school students develop relationships and provide academic tutoring for elementary school students who may be at risk for academic failure and/or other problems. These teens also are modeling the academic success and personal satisfaction that comes from choosing an alcohol, tobacco and drug free life.
The program is a collaborative project between the elementary school districts of Cardiff, Del Mar, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach and the San Dieguito Union High School District, and their PTAs, and San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth. Students from the local high schools are matched with students from 21 elementary schools. Currently, the program serves 1,200 students per year in North County.
The program’s objectives are to:
— Give high school students an opportunity to serve their community by helping a younger student, and to demonstrate the value of an alcohol, tobacco and drug free life.
— Provide academic tutoring and support for elementary students in a nontraditional format.
— Provide elementary students with a positive relationship with an academically successful, drug free teen role model.
Teen mentors go into the elementary school setting for one hour a week for six to eight weeks in the fall and then again in the spring. Mentoring is done after school, in a classroom, library, media center, or outside at lunch tables. There are 15 pairs of Study Buddy’s per day, supervised by two adults. Because the program includes some elementary students who are English learners or have an identified learning disability, a Spanish-speaking resource teacher and a counselor are available to assist the high school student.
As Study Buddy Supervisor Sheri Pacitto told San Dieguito Alliance staff, she came in as an insecure, inexperienced parent of a kindergartener, and grew in confidence and knowledge to become an experienced seven year veteran of the program.
“I learned to love and relate to all children, but particularly teens,” she said. “I have only positive stereotypes now of teens and their value to all of us but especially as good role models for young children. Being a Study Buddy Supervisor has been invaluable to me and to our family.”
Another advantage is that the mentors and their students, as well as program supervisors, teachers and parents, learn more about mentoring.