Mentors connect one-on-one with students, serving as positive role models to help students thrive at school. There are kids in every community who have endured adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). When unaddressed, these experiences can increase the risk for poor health outcomes later in life. The presence of a caring adult in a child's life can foster resilience and disrupt the negative impact of ACEs.
As a healthcare organization committed to improving the health of our communities, we have a responsibility to understand and address the impact of adverse childhood experiences within and outside our walls. Learn more about ACEs.
Why this matters: Education is linked to health. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, "People with more education are likely to live longer, to experience better health outcomes and to practice health-promoting behaviors." Mentors help their mentees exhibit behaviors consistent with school values and develop healthy relationships with adults, peers and themselves.
Gundersen Health System departments partner with classroom teachers to help create an environment where students have the best opportunities to learn. Several departments currently support classrooms at Hamilton Early Learning Center in La Crosse through financial and in-kind donations to enrich learning.
Why this matters: Teachers have great ideas to foster learning, but resources aren't always within reach—especially when many students come from economically-disadvantaged situations. Funds and resources donated through the Adopt-a-Classroom program help to make these ideas a reality, including field trips, healthy snacks, books, technology and more. Through the support of Adopt-a-Classroom, children have opportunities to enrich their learning that may otherwise have been non-existent.
Monthly Family Nights, sponsored by local elementary schools, give students and families a place to connect and enjoy each other in a safe and healthy manner. Global and Community Partners-At School program provides volunteers to serve meals, play a game or sport, assist with a craft or simply converse with families to promote a healthy, fun evening at school.
Why this matters: Global and Community Partners-At School supports school-based Family Nights to build relationships with students, their families and school staff. Family Nights offer a healthy, safe environment for families to enjoy a meal, play games and connect with others in their neighborhood.
Support Adopt-a-Classroom or Family Nights
To learn more about how you can support the Adopt-a-Classroom program or upcoming Family Nights, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a mentor
Global and Community Partners-At School is looking for individuals from Gundersen Health System and the larger community to volunteer one day a week at a local elementary school for about 45 minutes. Mentors are paired with a student identified by the school as a child who would benefit from a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult. Both morning and lunchtime options are available, depending on the school.
Prior to being paired with a student, individuals interested in mentoring need to complete:
- A background check through the school district
- A two-hour New Mentor Orientation that provides background on the partnership and expectations for the mentoring relationship
New mentors are recruited in summer and winter, with orientations typically offered in August/September and January.
Global and Community Partners-At School staff and volunteers offer ongoing support to mentors through mid-semester check-ins, mentor skills trainings and mentor resource emails. Gundersen Behavioral Health staff, in addition to on-site school personnel, are also available on-call throughout the school year to support mentoring relationships.
Interested in becoming an At School mentor? Please fill out our volunteer form.