Hello, our names are Celia and Julie and we oversee the Children Count Mentor Program at St. Joseph’s Indian School. The mentor program was established in 2001 to match a Lakota student with a positive adult staff member.
The goal of the program is to establish a positive relationship between adults and children, and to have a positive impact on Native American youth by actively
participating in their lives. These relationships can help children compensate for early experiences and protect them from the influences of social toxicity, negative peer groups and media violence.
Currently, we have 44 student/adult mentor matches. This year we even started some family matches so we could get more students involved. We have three family groups matched with either single staff
or married couples this year. We also have two staff members who took on the challenge of being matched with two students.
Students at St. Joseph’s are referred to the mentor program by their Family Service Counselor because they lack one-on-one contact with an adult – they may not have a family member who can check them out for an evening or weekend, or because they would benefit from a positive relationship with adults who actively participates in their lives.
The mentor committee hosts five several events throughout the school year. We tried some new events this year. This included a hockey game and trip to a corn maze as well as our main events, picnics and Christmas get together. Everyone had a great time!
In addition to these organized events, staff spend 2-6 hours per month individually with their match. Some activities that students enjoy with their mentors are going out to eat, attending local sporting events, going for walks, making cookies and doing crafts, just to name a few.
Thank you for your support of this great program!
Last week, a group of 16 matches from the Children Count Mentor Program traveled to a corn maze in eastern South Dakota. Every year, the shape of the corn maze changes
– this year it was a bear!
Students and their adult matches were divided into groups and given a map and a list of questions. The map showed the location of nine stations to be found. Each station provided the answer to a question and a clue to finding your way out of the maze.
The questions were – you guessed it – all about bears! The students also had a chance to find a treasure chest. It wasn’t on the map but, if found, awarded a special treat. This was highly sought after by each group. A few of the groups actually found the treasure after much searching.
Each year, St. Joseph’s Mentor Committee organizes different gatherings throughout the year. These activities along with individual outings, allow students to have time with an adult to build another positive relationship.
There are about 35 mentor matches between Lakota students and St. Joseph’s Indian School staff members. To be a part of the mentor program, a student is matched based on their need for one-on-one time and positive adult role models in their lives. Matches are made based on mutual interests.
Everyone had a great time at the corn maze! Pilamaya – thank you – for your generosity to support programs like this for the Native American children we serve.
I wanted to be part of the program because so many of our Lakota (Sioux) children could really benefit from another positive adult relationship in their life. I have been matched with Martina since 2007.
She was in third grade when we were matched and is now a sophomore in St. Joseph’s high school program – time goes so fast! I enjoy mentoring her because I feel like I can give her another person to talk to in her life. I can also be there for her if she needs someone to just listen.
We enjoy the activities scheduled by the mentor committee, like picnics, movie night and scavenger hunts, but also enjoy going out to eat or to the movies. I have watched her grow into a nice young lady, and she has so much potential to do great things in the future!
I feel that our time together has been beneficial for both of us. Martina has also said that she feels having a mentor has helped her through the years. I look forward to continuing our relationship as she graduates from high school and continues her journey through life.
St. Joseph’s Children Count mentor program is up and running strong again this school year! Currently, we have 43 Lakota (Sioux) students
matched with staff members. We’re working on a few more matches to add to the count!
Our first mentor gathering was held September 24. It was a beautiful fall day in South Dakota – perfect for a picnic at the park alongside the scenic Missouri River. The students and their mentors enjoyed a scavenger hunt, lawn games and even a watermelon seed spitting contest! Our dining hall staff provided a wonderful meal for everyone to enjoy and everyone had a wonderful time!
This school year, we are looking forward to highlighting a few of our mentor matches and sending this information to all staff on campus, and you! We will also be exploring some new mentor activities and will share our adventures in a future blog post!
The Children Count Mentor Committee had their final gathering of the school year last night! Mentors and their Lakota student matches went roller-skating in Platte, South Dakota, which is about 50 miles from Chamberlain.
Everyone enjoyed an evening of roller staking, pizza and games. We also honored those who have been “matched” in St. Joseph’s mentor program the longest.
This year, Celia (staff) and Martina (high school student) have the longest running match. These two have been paired for seven years!
“The best part of the program is spending time with my mentor,” Martina says. “I can talk to Celia about anything. It also helped me to be more outgoing and to meet new people.”
We also have a newer match, with Wanda (staff) and Irene (high school student) who have been teamed for the past year.
“Having a mentor has been good for me because it has given me a chance to have some fun!” said Irene. “My schedule has been so busy this year. Also, it’s nice to spend time with someone outside of my home.”
As we wind down this 2013 school year, the Children Count Mentor Committee looks forward to next year at St. Joseph’s Indian School – making many more matches and renewing current successful matches!