Milton Hershey School Mentor Program Forms Strong Bonds
Milton Hershey School’s Mentoring Our Leaders’ Development Program (M.O.L.D.) is designed to build strong bonds between students and staff. As a bonus, the mentor program can also help students enhance their peer support system.
A group of Senior Division students that refers to themselves as a “M.O.L.D. family” formed out of each student’s desire to stay connected to a special Middle Division Social Studies Teacher, Morgan Espenshade. Now, Nijeer Kitterll, Mecca Stever, Faith Flores, and Renee Womack are a tight-knit group centered around Espenshade.
“It’s good to have connections with people on campus because they can really help you,” Mecca Stever said.
Mecca was the first to ask Espenshade to be her mentor. The teacher was proud to accept, and soon the others followed. When they attend M.O.L.D. events, their relationship grows through their shared love for spirited competition. Trivia, pumpkin decorating contests, bowling, and bingo games are just some of the ways the group has bonded.
M.O.L.D. is about more than fun. Mentorship can help students of all ages feel confident, supported, and motivated. Espenshade’s group certainly believes the M.O.L.D. program accomplishes those goals. The M.O.L.D. program is closely aligned with the school’s 2025 strategic plan, also known as the MILT Plan. One of the plan’s key focus areas is modeling character and well-being so students graduate equipped to thrive as self-sufficient adults who are thoughtful, compassionate, and ready to make a positive impact on their communities.
“I really appreciate having a trusted adult I can reach out to for advice,” Mecca said. “Mrs. Espenshade is definitely my go-to.”
M.O.L.D. events also allow students and mentees to try new experiences. Recently, Nijeer attended an ice skating night while having no intention of putting on skates. Thanks to the encouragement of his peers, he changed his mind.
“It was fun too, I didn’t expect it to be fun,” he said. “They made me better.”
Faith and Mecca are active in the MHS Visual and Performing Arts program. They didn’t know each other before connecting through Espenshade, and now they are close friends.
“It’s nice because if I am on stage and look up, Mecca is doing the lights,” Faith said. “Having him there is comforting.”
Espenshade enjoys supporting her mentees by attending their activities, which also gives her the chance to reconnect with other Senior Division students.
Mecca and Nijeer will graduate from MHS in June. Knowing Espenshade will still be available to share advice makes them less anxious about life’s next chapter.
“I would encourage anyone who is looking to form strong connections with adults to become involved with M.O.L.D.,” Mecca said. “It’s low-stress and rewarding.”
Mentoring Matters at Milton Hershey School
January is National Mentoring Month, but at MHS, healthy relationships help students and staff achieve Breakthroughs year-round.