James Madison University

Purple & Gold Connection

PHOTO: Purple and Gold Connection

What does it take to help a young person develop?  To answer this the Social Work Department is actively engaged in providing mentorship, educational workshops and activity support for high school students in partnership with Waynesboro High School Guidance Office and the Professor-in-Residence Program at JMU.  A social work core value is a belief in the intrinsic worth of all people.  Young people are worthy of our time, skills, and creative energies as adolescence is a time of individualization while still needing the guidance of adults.  Part of our mission is to help young people become engaged in their life process, to develop their voices, and to make proactive life decisions.  We hope to give high school students a greater sense of their own power to make positive life choices and plans for their future.

Who are the mentees?  Waynesboro High School students are recommended by their teachers as they move into their sophomore year.  Selected students are identified as having potential to develop a career plan that would include community college or attending a 4 year institution like JMU.   Selected students are followed and offered support until graduation. Mentees meet with their mentoring team of JMU students over lunch once a week.  During these sessions JMU student mentors develop positive relationships, help WHS student mentees develop their dreams, set goals, and make plans on how to actualize their goals.  JMU student mentors serve as role models and resource persons.

This program is supported in a variety of ways within the department.  Any students may take SOWK/FAM386: Youth Empowerment Strategies, which is a blended course combining face to face instruction, online learning and community service learning serving as semester long mentors at Waynesboro High School.  In the senior group practice course students are assigned to conduct educational groups, such as study strategies, talking to your teachers, cyber bullying or time management.  Social work students from other courses may attend large group activities to support WHS like their field day or talking to high school classes. Several large group activities include the mentees families.

WHS students have visited the JMU campus for Take a Look Day, Take a Peek Day, as guest of the CISAT Diversity Council with the support of various academic units.

This program challenges our students be the change and be active engaged citizens of the region.  Social Work majors and family studies minors continue to make a real world difference.