By Joseángel Domínguez, PhD.
Director of Training and Innovation
Independent Catholic School
“I just want you to know that ever since we last spoke I have dedicated minutes out of my time to sit and reflect on the trajectory of my day so that I can better understand the areas that need improving. I must say the rewards of doing so have been immense!” I woke up fulfilled on a February morning to this message left by my young friend Jacob. Here is some context: I had the good fortune to mentor Jacob throughout his formative high school years via the school’s mentoring program… Like many of his contemporaries, my friend Jacob needed some sort of anchor to help him navigate through the hurdles of growing up so that when the time came to become a fully-fledged adult it would all make perfect sense to him.
The benefit of mentoring or coaching is truly a phenomenal asset to those seeking to add a heightened sense of purpose to their quotidian routines. It is paramount that we begin to embrace these guides through life as something that should not be solely reserved for the high echelons of corporate life and rising entrepreneurs.
The access to mentorship should not be prohibitive and this is why during the past two years Shelton Academy located at Doral has taken upon itself to spearhead the effort to perfect and impart this practice to its entire student body. From elementary up into the high school years. If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable (Seneca) and no one can be the judge in his own case (S. Josemaría). The truth is we all need the honest, personal, and wholesome guidance of a mentor.
How does this work? You might ask, well the answer is simpler than one might expect. Each student enrolled at Shelton Academy has a specially designated mentor. Daily conversations between mentor and mentee remain in the utmost confidentiality. What subjects are addressed during these sessions? Well, those subjects and scenarios that arise in day-to-day life.
Each person has its own rhyme and reason to how they carry on. It is the mentor’s responsibility to take its mentee through the path to self-awareness, to allow them to comprehend the importance of always looking forward. All those small personal wins at the end of each week will form into lifelong habits.
If you pull focus at the current state of the educational system around the world you will notice that some 20th century born professors approach their 21st century born students to think and act as if it still were the 19th century. Not by fault of their own but simply because education has not evolved with the changing times. As an independent Catholic School at Shelton Academy, we profusely refuse to be seen as an institution that still lives in the past.
Our mentoring program is not only innovative but also forward-thinking. As parents of 21st-century children we cannot sit idly by and watch a somewhat archaic structure churn out falsely prepared young adults. We do not want our children to be programmed to say what is expected by the system or act as robots as they navigate the challenging first years of adulthood.
We want our children to be free-thinking individuals and be able to trust them to always do what is morally and ethically correct. We are confident that the Mentoring Program at Shelton Academy will not only prepare students but will also propel them into an ever-changing society with a levelheaded and humanistic way of confronting life.