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Flex Mentoring: A Transformative Approach to Student Engagement at The Summit School

Bringing creativity and color to the classroom! Our students' perler bead artwork adds a personal touch and a sense of community #studentart #perlerbeads #classroomdecor"

Flex Mentoring at The Summit School has led to success, giving students a voice & choice in activities & fostering stronger relationships with teachers. I'm not teaching about the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, I'm talking about my favorite types of music and sharing that interest of mine.”
— Brandon Marcinkiewicz
UPPER NYACK, NY, UNITED STATES, February 3, 2023 / -- The Summit School is proud to share the successful results of its innovative approach to student engagement and mentorship through Flex Mentoring. Flex Mentoring is a structured block of time in the school day that provides students with a choice of non-credit bearing activities that are both fun and educational.

Marie Meore, Science Department Team Leader, highlights the impact Flex Mentoring has had on students at The Summit School. "A student I saw the other day was in crocheting and knitting," shares Meore. "It's interesting because he's in occupational therapy two times a week and he doesn't even realize that he is reaching his goals by just crocheting in the middle part of the day."

The primary purpose of Flex Mentoring is to give students more of a voice and an active choice in an activity each day within their school day, as Brandon Marcinkiewicz, Social Studies Department Team Leader, explains. "The common thread of the various flex activities that are facilitated and run by our teachers are that they are fun activities, first and foremost, which are not typically found in the school day," Marcinkiewicz says.

For many students, Flex Mentoring has become a highlight of their day, providing a much-needed break from the traditional academic curriculum. In addition to being fun, these activities are also helping students build relationships with teachers in a more relaxed and informal setting. "I can have students who sign up for my flex activity who I don't have in an academic class, but now when I see that student on campus, it's a familiar face. We have a common interest, we have things to talk about, possibly next year, later on down the line, I have that student in class," adds Marcinkiewicz.

One of the standout flex activities at The Summit School is Perler Beads (pixel art), facilitated by Math teacher Nicole Kuhlmeier. "In the summer, I started Perler Beads as my activity for flex. Well, that took off and it's been such an amazing way to connect with students because I'm working with them on something we have a similar interest in, and it really allows me to build a rapport with them," shares Kuhlmeier. "A lot of students will make projects just to put on the wall in my classroom, and it really gives my classroom a sense of community and it looks awesome."

Flex Mentoring has proven to be a powerful tool for fostering stronger relationships between teachers and students. By providing students with a choice of activities that are both fun and educational, teachers are able to connect with students on a deeper level, building trust and rapport that translates into the classroom.

The results of Flex Mentoring at The Summit School are clear: improved student engagement, stronger relationships between teachers and students, and a more positive and inclusive school culture. The school is proud to share these success stories and is committed to continuing its innovative approach to student engagement and mentorship through Flex Mentoring.

Jonathan Neiderman
The Summit School
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Flex Mentoring with Brandon Marcinkiewicz & Marie Meore