• Last modified 3051 days ago (Jan. 13, 2011)


Tabor students mentor Hillsboro kids

Staff writer

When mentors from Tabor College walk into a room at Hillsboro Elementary School, the faces of their grade-school students light up and the mentors are greeted with a loud excited exultation.

“With the kids, it gives them someone to look up to and they help them with homework,” Tabor Chums organizer Sara Sigley said. “Basically, a college student is coming to hang out with them.”

The Tabor Chums program has been a combined effort between Tabor College and USD 410 since 1998. Tabor students apply for the program through the student life department; Sigley helps pair the 45 Tabor students with their young counterparts. HES counselor Mike Moran selects students for the program, 33 at HES and 20 at Hillsboro Middle School. Students struggling in school or with problems at home may be selected for the program.

A donor in McPherson created the program with funds from her estate. Tabor students are paid to participate — although Sigley said it was about $50 a month — and the program provides snacks.

“College kids are busy,” Moran said. “That’s the nice thing about students being paid.”

Tabor students spend an hour with elementary and middle school children on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the school year.

First, Tabor mentors help their chums with homework for the first 30 minutes of each meeting. On Thursday, Emilio Martinez and Justine Langer helped third-graders Trevor Jasper, Jade Miller, Raymond, Johnston, Roxanna Nieto, and Victoria Wintermote with multiplication tables. Usually, mentors and students are paired one-on-one, but because of Tabor’s winter break, the program was short a few mentors.

“Teachers wouldn’t have time to sit down with them once a week,” Moran said.

Martinez and Langer are elementary education majors and said Tabor Chums is an outlet to gain experience.

“It’s a type of work study,” Langer said. “It definitely prepares you to deal with kids of all kinds.”

For the last half hour, mentors and students usually have a snack and play on the playground. Sigley and Moran said this is the most important part of the program.

“You really build a relationship,” Martinez said. “It feels nice for them to look up to you.”

Moran said the relationship is characterized by mentors carrying their chums on their backs or other good-natured play.

“You can tell they love it,” Moran said of the mentors’ experience in chums. “It’s a nice respite from college life.”

Sigley was a mentor when she was a student at Tabor; she jumped at the chance to be a part of the program as women’s resident director.

“At the end of the day, it’s about investing in their lives,” Sigley said.

Last modified Jan. 13, 2011