Mentoring at Milton Hershey School Has a Powerful Impact, Even When Virtual
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mentoring Our Leaders’ Development (M.O.L D.) program at Milton Hershey School switched to virtual for the 2020-21 school year. Students and staff paired as mentees and mentors are connecting through activities digitally. They continue to inspire, encourage, and impact each other every day.
Middle Division teacher Tiera Reinert and Senior Division student Dajah Johnson-Wright are participants in the M.O.L.D. mentoring program. They recently shared what the relationship they’ve developed means to them, and they recorded video messages to each other.
Dajah Johnson-Wright, MHS student
When I first came to MHS, I was kind of shy. I really didn’t talk a lot, but I met many trusted adults that helped me open up and express my thoughts and emotions.
She helped me any time I was struggling, and always wants what is best for me. She came to most of my football games to see me cheer. I got to help her coach Middle Division cheerleading one season. I’ve also visited her house a few times, and got to meet her family. MHS is one big family, and having Mrs. Reinert as my mentor is kind of like having a small family within that big family.
Even though the M.O.L.D. mentoring program is virtual this year, we stay connected, and it’s always like we never missed a beat.
Mrs. Reinert, I just want to say thank you so much. I was nervous freshman year in high school because I missed middle school, but then I found out you were becoming my mentor through the M.O.L D. program. I was so excited and happy to have you there for me.
You’re always there if I need you, if I’m struggling with something. You’re always asking how you can help. I know you will be there for me even when I go to college. Even if we don’t talk every day, I always know you’re just a phone call away. Thank you so much.
Tiera Reinert, MHS teacher, and Middle Division cheerleading coach
Mentoring at MHS means staying connected with our students and creating a positive relationship with them. I think another important piece of mentorship is letting them know they’re always going to have an adult they can rely on for support and guidance. You build a bond one year, and you keep that going every year.
I had the opportunity to coach Dajah in cheerleading during her seventh- and eighth-grade years. I knew when Dajah finished eighth grade and went on to Senior Division that I needed to stay connected with her. We made it a priority to join the M.O.L.D. program, and we’ve been mentor and mentee for four years.
I’ve been able to watch her thrive, and encourage her every step of the way. I feel like she has taken on all the great things about MHS, and that’s made her into who she is today. She inspires me. Without knowing it, she encourages me to work harder and to be a better person because of who she is. That’s who I want my kids to be like.
I think it’s really cool when these students become part of your family. My kids think about Dajah all the time, and they light up when they see her.
My experience as a mentor at MHS is so important to me. Our students experience so much change in their lives, and mentors can provide consistency for them. You become someone they can always turn to and trust for guidance, both now and after they graduate. Just letting them know the difference they can make by being at MHS and the impact that can then have on their family is powerful. I think being a mentor is so powerful here.
Dajah, you’ve made it. It’s your senior year. You have worked so hard. You have turned into a beautiful woman who is about to take on a big role in the future and out in the world. I have no doubt that you are going to be successful. You are so independent, hard-working, determined, and dedicated.
I remember you in middle school, when you were trying out for cheerleading. I looked at you and saw the talent you have, the leader you are. And I watched you continue on to high school and the stronger leader you’ve become through those four years.
You have accomplished incredible things, and every person that you have met along the way cares so much about you. Always remember that when times get tough or if you feel like you’re alone. Everyone you’ve met at MHS loves you, and we are all so proud of you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you’ve taught me through these last six years of us staying connected and for the relationship that we will continue to nurture.