The importance of mentors

High school can often feel like navigating a massive city without a common language, a phone or a map – it is so easy to get lost. There are so many different paths to take, people to know and things to figure out. However, there is one incredible resource to help you not only navigate the large, intimidating place that is our High School, but to also thrive in it: The adults in the community. An adult mentor at school can help you find your way, discover your interests and support you through the trials and tribulations of the four-year journey.

Find someone – whether it be your social studies or math teacher, a college counselor or dean – with whom you can identify and trust. These adults can be your very own tour guide. They can direct you, help you and encourage you through this journey. They know the school even better than you do and they know what it takes to be successful in it. Their knowledge and experience is invaluable and tapping into it is crucial.

The only adults you see as often – and sometimes more often – as your parents are the adults at school. You see them five days a week, for a minimum of seven hours a day, 179 days of the year.

The endless opportunities to get to know teachers, combined with their knowledge and experience, results in an ideal mentor. They can help you navigate your academic life, your successes, your defeats, and they can even help you plan for the future.

Teachers can also help you realize who you are as a person. A main reason behind the confusion and chaos of high school is the fact that most students are trying to find and understand who they are as people. Although this process is something largely done by yourself, an adult mentor can help you immensely. Teachers can often pick up on qualities and assets that even your parents may miss – they know us in ways others just don’t. Then, they can push you to explore it by directing you to a class, or an after-school club, or even to talk to another similarly interested person. They can help you discover who you are.

Having a prominent role model throughout your childhood is very important developmentally, emotionally and socially. According to, social learning scientists have shown that a large amount of learning in childhood comes from observation and imitation. Children learn by imitating the behavior of those they admire. Although in adolescence, one doesn’t have to learn by imitation to the same level, it is still important to have a role model to look to for support, advice or even to look to as a good example.

I did not realize the importance of having an adult mentor at school until this year. This summer, I was subject to health issues that prompted a fairly significant surgery. Upon return to school two weeks late, I was faced with junior-year work intensity, a new social situation, new routines, and most importantly, my recovery. One person in particular emerged to be my main supporter at school, a teacher. They supported me through academic challenges, the changes that accompanied my health issues, and simply became someone that looked out for me at school. Without him, my journey would have been a much longer and more painful struggle.

Everyone should remember that teachers are not only accessible inside the classroom, but also outside the classroom for social or even emotional matters.

Someone to anchor you, confide in and celebrate with, is irreplaceable. High school can be tough and intimidating, or it can be fun and exciting. Adult mentors can help tip the scale and make your high school experience feel safe, inspiring and enjoyable.