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The Student Newspaper of Hopkins School

    • Sam Steinberg '17 and Caroline Laplaca '17 pose outside of Calarco Library.

Mentoring the Future

Eleanor Doolittle ’20, Veronica Yarovinsky '20, Olivia Capasso ’19, Assistant Features Editors
Every Thursday, ninth grade students start the day off in their advisory groups, enjoying some baked goods while talking about their experiences at Hopkins with their adviser, other advisees, and Senior Mentors.
Every Thursday, ninth grade students start the day off in their advisory groups, enjoying some baked goods while talking about their experiences at Hopkins with their adviser, other advisees, and Senior Mentors.

One of these Senior Mentors is Tatiana Niebuhr ’17, who is also a captain of the fencing team. Although advisers are crucial for giving advice from the school’s point of view, Senior Mentors provide a different perspective into the Hopkins lifestyle. Balancing school, athletics, activities, and fun is challenging, so why not talk to an older friend who has survived these struggles?

As Niebuhr described, “The great thing about senior mentors is that they’re of the student body, not the faculty, and only have to think back a couple of years to recall being a Freshman or Sevie. They have just lived the Hopkins journey since those years.”

Yue Yin ’20, one of the advisees explained, “Tati shared some interesting stories about fun classes that she took that kept me motivated on tired mornings.”

Being a Senior Mentor is a rewarding responsibility, and some seniors like Niebuhr love it. “It’s not a scary amount of commitment, to be completely honest, but it does require a balance of organization, maturity, spontaneity, and authenticity. That can make it very easy for some and very difcult for others. It’s easy to only be half-invested in your advisees, but that’s certainly not constructive and they can easily see right through any attempts to feign interest.”

Niebuhr shared some advice for future Senior Mentors: “I can’t stress enough how important it is to be authentic and real with those you mentor. If you’re genuine, the kids will recognize that and appreciate that -- I know I did!”

Sam Steinberg ’17 has been a Senior Mentor to Teresa Picarazzi’s ninth grade adviser group. She said, “I wanted to be a Senior Mentor so that I could help my group of freshmen have the best experience at Hopkins as possible. There were also many bumps along the way for me that I kind of wish someone had advised me through.”

In term one, her responsibilities included visiting the advisory groups once a week and helping the advisor. In term two, she led the advisory group on Thursdays by herself. “I mainly try to keep advisory group fun and focused, and I check in on all of my advisees,” she elaborated. Advisory group activities included playing the games “Heads Up,” “pick-up sticks,” and “the States Game,” along with discussions about everyone’s recent school events.

Steinberg’s advisees all expressed how much they enjoyed her presence as a Senior Mentor. Hope Wanat ’20, said “She is very friendly and involved and makes advisory groups better in the morning (especially with ‘Head’s Up’). She is a great Senior Mentor!”

Caroline Laplaca ’17, current Senior Mentor for Assistant Athletic Trainer Jill Gleason’s ninth grade adviser group, frst expressed interest in becoming a mentor during her own freshman year. “I really liked my Senior Mentor as a freshman,” she recalled, “I thought it would be fun to play the mentor role eventually.”

Since beginning in September, Laplaca has learned that being a Senior Mentor requires more than just providing snacks for each advisor group meeting, adding that it “requires bringing a lot of patience in addition to donuts.”

Laplaca’s experiences as a mentor this year have generally been positive, as she has become close with some ninth graders she would not have otherwise gotten to know. She said, “I recommend this position to anyone who may be interested in becoming a mentor because I got to meet some freshman, and we even carpool sometimes!”

Lydia McGrath ’17 wanted to become a senior mentor since she was a freshman, herself, when her adviser and school librarian, Faye Prendergast, mentioned that she would be a perfect fit for the job. Stemming from that early interest in the position, McGrath is now the Senior Mentor for science teacher Emilie Harris’s ninth grade advisory group.

Initially, McGrath expressed interest in becoming a mentor because she felt she could relate easily to the younger students. “When I was a freshman, I encountered many of the same experiences as my current advisees,” she recalled. “I thought I could serve as an easy person to talk to when looking for advice - whether it regard course choices, study techniques, or even topics unrelated to school.” As a weathered Senior Mentor, McGrath feels as though her efforts have paid of this year and that mentoring has been an enjoyable experience. “I would defnitely recommend becoming a senior mentor to anyone who may be considering this position because you get to know younger kids that you wouldn’t spend time with otherwise.”
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
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