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A+ mentors gain benefits for scholarship program

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While visiting the elementary and junior high building in Marshfield, you might catch some high school students helping in the classrooms.

Damon Rust, a junior at Marshfield High School, visits Mrs. Lancaster’s second grade class at Webster Elementary for 50 minutes every day. It's part of the tutoring and mentoring requirements through the A+ Scholarship program.

"I have so far helped the students study for spelling tests, as well as help Mrs. Lancaster with extra work like laminating papers and cutting cards," said Rust.

For the A+ program offered at the high school, Rust said students are required to do 50 hours of mentoring to receive two free years of college at Ozarks Technical Community College.

"I found out about the A+ program through my counselor, Mrs.Hoefer," he said. "I chose to participate as I thought it would be a great experience to help out in a classroom and mentor younger students."

The A+ Scholarship program provides scholarship funds to eligible graduates of A+ designated high schools who attend a participating public community college or vocational/technical school, or certain private two-year vocational/technical schools. Marshfield has been designated as an A+ high school since 1999.

"Over 300 students are currently signed up for the A+ Program," said Michael Crews, who oversees the A+ program. "That's 165 seniors (77% of that class). Sixty-five percent of the upperclassmen are currently signed up for the A+ Program." 
Last fall, 51 students participated in the mentoring program. This spring, 64 students are involved in it (about a 25% increase), according to Crews.

"They generally complete their semester of mentoring and tutoring during their junior or senior year in high school," he said. "Students are placed with facilitating teachers primarily in our junior high and elementary schools. This placement is based on the combination of requests made by facilitating teachers, student availability and compatible schedules of the facilitating teacher."

Crews added, "There is a priority for placing senior students who are in their final semester before graduation, so that they have the opportunity to meet the required amount of tutoring and mentoring hours communicated by the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development."

Senior Bryle Scott assists Mrs. Henry’s second grade class at Webster Elementary School. She works with individual students one at a time for about 10 minutes.

"Mrs. Henry creates a Google document that I can look over to see which students I will mentor that day," she said. "A student will read to me and we go through it together. I work with three students a day."

Typically, students must complete 50 hours of unpaid tutoring or mentoring, of which up to 25% (12.5) hours may be job shadowing, prior to graduation. Those required hours, however, were reduced from 50 to 25 for the 2021 seniors, according to the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development.

"Marshfield is absolutely following the changes that reduced the required hours for 2021 seniors from 50 to 25," said Crews. "This has been a tremendous benefit to this year’s graduating class. I am grateful for that."

With job shadowing, Crews noted in his experience relatively few students have used the option to gain their hours that way.

"We are not restricted to job shadowing in Marshfield or even Webster county," he said. "Some students may decide to job shadow someone in Springfield.  However, it is more likely that any job shadowing would be done locally."

From the mentoring, Rust said, "The thing I enjoy most would be the experience with helping the students."

For more information about Marshfield’s A+ program, visit the  Marshfield R-I A+ website link on Marshfield High School’s website at marshfieldaplus.weebly.com.

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