Mentor program gives NY students a leg up on college

BEEKMANTOWN, N.Y. (WCAX) A mentor program is setting an example for middle school students in Beekmantown, New York, helping them to start thinking about college.

Teachers always hope that their lessons last a lifetime, and on Monday Beekmantown Middle School was nothing but madness -- mentoring Madness that is.

Ms. Biezo's 8th grade classroom is like any other. Time passes and eager students race to answer questions. But Monday's class had a bit of a spin.

"We were kind of going over all of the things you need to do to be successful in life and in the long term with your goals," said Wyatt Labored, a Beekmantown 8th grader.

College For Every Student (CFES), a nonprofit in Essex, New York, is working to teach students to take pride in getting to the next academic step.

"It will help me get my mind on track," Labored said.

Gabe Rodriguez, a volunteer for the nonprofit, works for the University of Vermont and spoke to the eighth graders about being prepared now

"I think it's really important because sometimes you get to students in high school -- junior year -- and it's too late because most colleges will determine admission based on the first three years of high school," Rodriguez said.

He taught students about skills they would need to succeed, but in a fun way

"If they work hard, if they work well with teams, if they have leadership abilities, if they are adaptable, if they're flexible -- all of those things when you bring them all together typically makes for a very successful student," Rodriguez said.

Building on terms like agility, teamwork, leadership and other skills and to get them to start thinking about the future

"I really want to be a teacher because I like working together with people," Labored said.

"I'm going to guess if I become a marine biologist I'll have people under the water with me, which means I'll need to be using teamwork with them," said Keegan Seamone, a Beekmantown 8th grader.

Learning what's important to them, and what's important to their classmates.