By Barbie Porter
The Frazee-Vergas School District is poised to bring back a program that impacted lives of students.
Heather Perrine and Sara Jacobson, who work for the school, informed the school board the Match mentorship program may be brought back as soon as next year.
Principal Travis Nagel said Perrine and Jacobson approached him and asked if he remembered a program called Match. The program allowed upper classman to be paired with elementary students as a mentor, with a focus on pairing students with similar life experiences and challenges.
“They were interested in getting it going again, and I thought that was a great idea,” Nagel said. “I asked what they needed me to do and they said, ‘stay out of our way.’”
The good natured request meant the women were going to tackle the details and keep Nagel posted on progress until it was ready to present to the board.
Jacobson contacted the person who started the program, and learned data showed there were far-reaching benefits beyond the intended ones for the students involved.
Both Perrine and Jacobson are graduates of Frazee High School and have fond memories of the Match program. Perrine said throughout her high school career she had four Match students. She recalled the training she received as a mentor helped navigate sensitive conversations and information.
“It had life long effects,” Perrine said.
She recalled one Match student would run away from home. The child’s mom would call Perrine and she would get in her car and drive until she found him on the side of the road, often walking to her house.
“We’d talk and I’d bring him home,” she said, noting after high school the young man made choices that sent him to prison. “I felt I failed him as a mentor.”
During his prison stay, he joined a program for self improvement. The program required him to write a letter about someone that impacted his life in a positive way. A decade after their mentorship Match ended, he wrote a letter to her and recognized how that program helped him when he was struggling.
Perrine and Jacobson also spoke with the high school counselors to see if Match could be a partial elective, similar to tutoring. The elective option would prevent high school students from missing out on class time.
Board members recalled how similar mentorship programs helped them during adolescence and expressed support on reviving Match.