By Fr. Roy Cimagala
We have in school a mentoring program. The idea is to provide each stu-dent some-one he can talk to freely not only about academic mat-ters but also about other concerns, be they personal, family, financial, etc.
It’s amazing that there can be endless things to tackle in these informal chats that are marked by friendship, trust and confi-dence. More than formal classes and other school processes, this individua-lized and more personalized attention given to the students have benefited not only the students but also the mentors themselves who are usually the teachers.
So far we have seen good results. For one it has built a stronger and friend-lier relationship among the students and teachers. Problems of whatever kind are easily detected and more promptly addressed. And a strong sense of loyalty to one another and to the school has certainly developed.
Even many alumni, already many years after graduation, feel so identi-fied with the students and the school that they readily help in any way they can.
The challenge is how to help the mentors do their job well. They have to have the proper attitude and disposition, and of course the qualities that are neces-sary, like the willingness to listen and having an active interest in the students, and the knack for giving timely pieces of fraternal advice, suggestions, reminders, etc.
This may not be easy for a variety of reasons, among them differences in temperaments, lack of time, some personal problems, etc. But these, obviously, are not insurmountable problems. They just have to be attended to.
We tell our enrolees and applicants about this program and to be willing to go through it. Of course, we give them some orien-tation talks about the program.
We tell the mentors to take the initiative to meet the stu-dents and to set some re-gular meetings. The men-tors have to know the stu-dents as much as possible—their family background, their scholas-tic record and other peculiar information.
They should try to win the students’ confidence. They should reassure the students that they are there to help them in any way, including to defend them whenever they get into some trouble with the school itself.
They should have a plan of topics and issues to take up with the students. They have to assess how the students are in their way of studying, for exam-ple, or in their way of relating with others.
They have to get a good knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the students, their vir-tues and vices, and come up with an appropriate plan to address the correspon-ding issues. They have to know how the students are developing toughness, patience, humility, opti-mism, etc.
Then, little by little, they have to encourage the students to take care of their spiritual life, seeing to it that the students know their basic catechism and start to be more consistent to their faith, knowing how to pray and offer sacri-fices, having recourse to the sacraments, etc.
It’s important that the mentors be the immediate models and examples of what they encourage the students to do and to be. In this regard, they should encourage the students to see the priest for spiritual direction and confession. Fr. Roy Cimagala, Chap-lain, Center for Indus-trial Technology and Enterprise (CITE), Ta-lamban, Cebu City, Email: roycimagala@ gmail.com