Link Crew peer mentor program comes to local high schools

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, August 2017: A huge priority at Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD) is making sure that every child at every school has a caring and trusted adult they can go to. These healthy connections and relationships play a vital role in how successful scholars are in school and life. Meaningful connections at school help ensure a student feels safe, comfortable, and ready to learn.

The school district also recognizes that the transition to high school can be a stressful time for ninth-graders. Students may feel excitement coupled with apprehension, and uncertainty as to how they will fit in at their new school. To address this issue and ensure a smooth transition, TTUSD is launching a new peer mentor program, Link Crew, so students start their high school experience on a positive note and develop a real connection from the beginning.

Link Crew gives every ninth-grade student at North Tahoe and Truckee high schools a student mentor the entire school year. It starts with a personal call from the mentor, inviting the new student to a freshmen orientation. Then throughout the year, the mentors and peers have the opportunity to talk about real life issues academic and social. The mentors serve as a guide and support through the freshman’s first year. They can talk about everything from what clubs to participate in, even mistakes they’ve made and learned from what classes to take, and the A- G course requirements. Students have candid conversations with their peers and learn from each other’s experiences.

The compelling part of Link Crew is that it’s students helping students. They build solid connections with each other, and each student has another go to person outside of their classroom.

Both high schools have two Link Crew coordinators dedicated to the Link Crew program. In preparation for launching this program, the coordinators and student leaders participated in Link Crew Leader training and were trained as advisers.

This new program at TTUSD would not be possible without the generous support of the SH Cowell Foundation, the Excellence in Education Foundation and Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts and his wife, Elena Amsterdam. Each of these funders is dedicated to supporting local youth through mental health and wellness programs and appreciate the proactive approach of Link Crew’s positive, peer-to-peer model.

The district is excited to roll out Link Crew to help instill lasting school connections and ensure the success in the freshmen transition.

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This article was contributed by Tahoe Truckee Unified School District and originally appeared in print in the August 23, 2017, publication Back to School 2017 in Sierra Sun. Rob Katz and Elena Amsterdam helped fund the Link Crew program through a grant facilitated by TTCF as part of the 2017 Tahoe Truckee Youth Wellness Program which encompasses four approaches to youth wellness.