Service Scholars start girls mentorship program at Alexander II

Alayna+Williams+and+Anna+Johnson+are+starting+a+girl+empow-%0Aerment+group+at+Alexander+II+with+fourth+and+fifth+graders.%0A%0AThey+are+starting+this+program+in+hope+of+inspiring+young+girls%0A%0Awhile+tackling+common+issues+observed+at+the+school.

Image: Kat Heesh

Alayna Williams and Anna Johnson are starting a girl empow- erment group at Alexander II with fourth and fifth graders. They are starting this program in hope of inspiring young girls while tackling common issues observed at the school.

Suzanna Price, Staff Writer

Mercer University seniors Alayna Williams and Anna Johnson are starting a volunteer-oriented girls mentorship program that allows Mercer students to volunteer on Fridays at Alexander II Magnet School. The program will take place during the girls’ lunch hour, and will focus on fourth and fifth-grade students.

Johnson said, “We met with the counselor (at Alex II) and she told us about some issues that the girls face; specifically around gossip and around friendships, so we’re kind of working to address that.”

The pair chose to design their own curriculum for the program rather than partnering with an existing one, so that they can cater to this individual school’s needs.

Aside from discussing these issues with the students, the pair will work to teach the girls about academic confidence, speaking up in the classroom, self esteem and health and wellness.

“There are some gender-specific curriculums in Macon, but most of them we found weren’t for girls, so that was our primary reason for doing it,” Williams said. “We’ve had a lot of girls who are really eager to volunteer because they can just take that one hour in between classes . . . and take that to actually try and make a difference.”

The first day of the program took place Jan. 20, with a turnout of 13 volunteers and 10 girls. They will continue to meet every Friday, excluding holidays.

Female Mercer students of any major who are interested in volunteering can contact Williams and Johnson via Facebook, or through their Mercer email addresses found in the student directory.

“We’re going to have two students from Mercer paired with two Alex II students, and that way if a Mercer student has to miss a week no girl is left out by her mentor for the week. This way we get a lot of  one on one time with the girls as well,” Johnson said.

The pair plans to spend this semester experimenting with the program. They hope that it will be carried on in future years by other service scholars. They have gotten a lot of feedback on the program from people who want to participate in the future, and they are even considering trying to set up a partnership with introductory Women’s and Gender Studies classes that may want to add a service component.

“I think it’s really important for Mercer to develop strong relationships with the surrounding schools,” Williams said. “It’s really important for us to remind students regularly that college is feasible for them, and that they have the academic background and they have the support system in their community that’s going to help them make that possible for them.”