Mentoring Program Provides Valuable Student Connections
Bridges of Manistee County OHS-ISD

Bridges are being built at Onekama Consolidated Schools, and we’re not talking about the recent renovations of the school building.

Through a collaboration forged by Onekama teacher Laurie Blevins and Manistee ISD teacher Angela Froncek-Joseph, Onekama High School Advanced Algebra students have joined together with students from the Manistee ISD Younger Moderate Cognitively Impaired classroom to work cooperatively on math.
The YoMOCI classroom is comprised of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Cognitive Impairments. Their classroom was moved into the Onekama School building this fall. In an effort to help her students with the transition, and to help them assimilate into the OCS community, Froncek-Joseph put a request out to the Onekama teaching staff asking if they had an opportunity to extend their teaching to include her students.

Laurie Blevins, who is currently completing her student teaching at Onekama High School, answered the call. “I was very excited to work with Angela’s class, because everything I have been studying in my education classes this year supports the value of mentoring from both aspects. I went to Angela and we worked out a time slot during Advanced Algebra. I picked three students who would not be affected by missing a half hour of instruction every week,” said Blevins. Three Onekama Freshman – Claire Harvey, Brittany Trombley, and Morgan Brown – are invited into the YoMOCI class every Friday to assist some of the students in their math labs. “Math is a difficult subject for many students,” reports ISD teacher Froncek-Joseph, “and the high school girls do a great job at breaking it down step by step to help the students understand what to do.”
The positive outcomes of this mentoring project extend far beyond mathematics.
“This is one of my dreams coming true,” states Angela Froncek-Joseph, “to have other students working with my students. The benefits are noticeable! The high school students learn that someone with a disability in my classroom is learning what the other students are, just at a different pace. My students interact with their peers, and look forward to their weekly visits.”

Blevins reiterated the affirmative results: “To be a student teacher and have my mentor teacher [Mr. David Baldner] back me on this project has been wonderful. It has been a learning experience for me and I have been able to help in the ISD classroom with the girls as well. The girls look forward to seeing their students every week and even eat lunch with them sometimes.”

The high school students quickly formed ties with the ISD students, and were eager to report all that they are gaining from the interactions with their new friends. “My favorite part of working with the ISD students is seeing how happy they seem when they finally get something right or understand what we’re doing,” says Brittany Trombley. “I’m gaining knowledge on how to deal with people who are slightly different than me. Even though it might take a little more effort, they can understand. It just takes the right way of teaching.”

Brittany Trombley and Isaiah Carter
work well together.

 Claire Harvey echoed these benefits. “I think that my favorite part of working with the ISD students has been getting to know the kids,” says Harvey. “I am gaining more of an understanding for different learning types, and getting a feel for each kid’s personality is really a great experience. I love working with the program and hope I can continue to do so.”

“Helping these kids helps me see things differently. They all seem like they’re having a great time. It’s really enlightening,” added Trombley.

Yes, there are bridges being built in the Onekama School building, and if you’re still not a believer, then think about the last time you heard a high school student describe her time in Advanced Algebra as ‘enlightening.’

Concluded Blevins, “It is truly an experience we have all been changed by.”

 Austin Powers and Claire Harvey share a math lesson related to money.

Morgan Brown and Nathan McDonald


Links for this school year:

Mr Baldner's Main Page

Mrs. Froncek-Joseph's Page

Onekama High School

Onekama Elementary
Serving Onekama School since 1997