March 07, 2018

Hampden-Sydney students team up with Prince Edward County Elementary School to mentor students.

By Aaron Kurz '18

H-SC mentors pose outside Prince Edward Elementary SchoolIn the midst of a Hampden Sydney snow storm, we can be certain of very few things: administrative offices will close, classes will continue as scheduled, and the children of Prince Edward County will make their way to the Hill for sledding.

But, as we bundle up to brave the remaining weeks of cold weather, does Spring's arrival signal the end of the relationship between Hampden-Sydney and the surrounding community's youngsters? Not for a select group of students. Hampden-Sydney's mentor program has managed to bring a more enduring feature of our campus to the elementary school: a passion for learning.

The Prince Edward County Elementary School Mentor Program is a student-run, College-funded group of Hampden-Sydney students that visits the elementary school twice a week. With the help of Prince Edward Elementary School counselor Mrs. Barbara Arieti, mentors are paired with an elementary school student whom they accompany through various parts of the school day, such as writing, math, lunch, and, everyone's favorite, recess.

Will Fussy '18, the club's president, has been a mentor since his freshman year at H-SC, and is backed by a group of fellow Tigers who share his devotion to the cause. Will's continued service to the program is evidence that recess isn't the only thing that keeps H-SC students going back: "We're paired with students that Mrs. Arieti picks out; they're students that could use a positive male role model in their lives. The kids love it, and it's always rewarding to get back and hear them talk about the reading they did over their break."

A mentor works with Prince Edward Elementary students at lunch.

Under Will's leadership, the program expects some serious growth moving forward. Consisting of mostly freshmen and sophomores, the group is young and looking to carry on the biweekly visits for years to come. Will's favorite stories from his time as a mentor revolve around the times when his mentees improve their Accelerated Reading scores from their own determination; he makes sure to push them to find the right answers themselves rather than giving hints.

The mentors are much more than simple classroom tutors, though. Will understands the behind-the-scenes nature of the program's value: "The guys wouldn't keep going back every week if it wasn't genuinely fun. Most of the mentors usually get there for lunch, stick with their mentees through a few classes, and then end with recess. It's a nice break from the more rigorous schedule of a typical weekday at Hampden-Sydney. Plus, it's always funny to see the mentors towering over elementary school students at lunch. We stick out like sore thumbs."

It's easy to get caught up in the bustle of a semester in full swing, but the mentor program offers students a unique opportunity to revisit their own childhood memories, as well as cultivate Hampden-Sydney's enthusiasm for an environment of sound learning. At a college so profoundly fueled by legacy, Will Fussy and his team of mentors offer a fun and meaningful opportunity for students to leave their own legacy. All it takes is an email to Will, and the rest, we trust, will blossom through the snowball effect. 

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