By Nicole Potgieter
When Quentina first came to Holbrook Indian School (HIS), she was having a hard time. Students bullied her, but they were careful to not get caught. When Quentina would react, she’d get sent to the principal’s office. During her first year, she spent more time at the principal’s office than any other student. She was often so frustrated with schoolwork that she would tell her teacher, “Just give me an F!”
You would hardly recognize her today. She loves to read! She no longer is being sent to the principal’s office, and she has made the honor roll.
Students at HIS often come from disadvantaged backgrounds. In their world, almost half of students do not graduate from high school. Only 8 out of 100 hold a college degree. Sixty-three percent of students on the reservation never talk to a school counselor to figure out what courses to take in high school or about what they want to do after high school.
At HIS, we want to break this cycle. We want to provide an environment in which our students can thrive. To reach that goal, we created our mentorship program with students like Quentina in mind. The HIS mentorship program is one of the reasons Quentina is doing so well today.
Students are assigned or recommended a mentor, who will be a role model and confidant for that student. Mentors encourage and assist their mentees in setting and reaching their mental, academic, physical, and spiritual goals.
The students benefit from having someone they can speak to about themselves without fear of judgment. Many students have not been told that they can dream about a future beyond the reservation. A mentor is someone who is there to remind students that they don’t have to be stuck in a rut. God has a plan for their life.
Teachers and staff volunteer to mentor students. They take them out to eat, help them get their basic needs met, and teach them life skills. Hailey, one of our student mentors, shares this insight into the program.
“I’ve noticed that my mentee is going through a lot of the same struggles I have—things like struggling with not wanting to admit that people can hurt you, drama with friends, or even body image issues. These are all things I’ve worked through or am still going through now. It’s amazing to hear my mentee say something that I had only just prayed about a few weeks before for myself. I think it’s strategic on God’s part. I think God works to put specific people together in this program because we have a specific vantage point and can see how hard these kids are working to better themselves. We can be the encouragement they need because we know how hard these topics can be.”
Quentina was recently baptized. She studied each week with her mentor and even brought friends to study with her. Mentorship is a valuable investment in our students. When you make a gift to Holbrook Indian School, you are also investing in our students.
We believe that these children are meant for so much more. They are the future leaders and mentors of their communities. They were made to flourish. The students of HIS were made to thrive. Our goal is to help them understand this truth.