Last year, Janice Peterson was nationally recognized as one of the "Fifty Orchestra Directors Who Make a Difference" by School Band and Orchestra Magazine. Students at Bothwell Middle School have started to emulate her leadership through an orchestral mentoring program.
Taylor Koski, an eighth grade mentor in the program, described the process.
"After school on Thursdays we teach fifth graders the basics of playing their instruments, like holding a bow right and where to put your fingers on the instrument to play the right notes in tune," noted Koski.
When they moved fifth graders into Bothwell two years ago, Miss Peterson tried to think of ways to make the transition a positive. She decided to start an after school class for the new fifth graders.
"We don't see the fifth graders often; they're just kind of in lockdown upstairs," added Koski.
About 40 fifth grade players showed up for the program, which made it difficult for Miss Peterson to give them an ample amount of her time. That's where student mentors, like Perry Truscon, come in.
"It's been really fun. I get to teach everyone about it. It actually helps me learn more about cello. It's a great way to learn good posture again," said Truscon.
The kids have felt a charge from being the big kid in the class, performing the role of teacher.
"You'll hit a bump in the road here and there when you're getting really frustrated. But it's all worth it in the end. It's really fun to be able to pick up a cello or violin and just start playing."
The mentoring experience has given students a new appreciation for their own teachers.
"It definitely makes me appreciate my teacher more because I never realized how hard it is to work with everybody at once."
Both the mentors and their students have noticed vast improvements in just a few, short months.
"At the beginning of the program none of the kids knew how to really play their instruments. Now they're learning to play songs and are holding their instruments right. There's definitely been a huge improvement."
The program is only in its third year, but students like Perry, who have been around throughout the process, are starting to take the initiative to teach pretty much anyone who needs the help. It's a testament to teachers like Miss Peterson and the rest of the staff at Bothwell. Their success shows how important mentoring can truly be.??