Léa Henaux (Exeter,2020) says helping out in the Junior School is all about paying it forward.
When I look back at my time at Aiglon, one thing that stands out is the support that I got from my fellow students. When I was making my IB choices in Year 12, for example, our house captain, Frankie, helped me a lot. She listened to all my questions, she helped me work out how to arrange my time, and she suggested teachers who could help me. So, when I heard about the role of Academic Peer Mentor, I thought it was a great idea and decided to pay it forward.
Being a Peer Mentor is similar to the ‘big sister’ role, but more academically focused. Usually it’s giving advice on things like how to communicate effectively with teachers, revision time and help with subjects. It’s particularly useful when you are transitioning from GCSE to IB and you can get stressed thinking about which subjects to choose, what you should be doing with regard to university applications and so on. It can sometimes feel like very unfamiliar ground.
For example, not long ago one of the GCSE students was very worried about making the wrong decision with her options; it felt like a very big deal to her. She came to me and we had a long chat, going through all her options one by one and thinking about how they might impact her university life. I reassured her that she had plenty of time to think about it and that she could change her options – and I think that helped her.
The most challenging part of the role is getting students to come to you if they have a problem. It’s no bother to me – I love talking to them about their problems! So, we make it very informal. Most of the time, a meeting is just someone coming to me to have a chat, or me going to someone’s room and just checking in on them. As we do it in houses, it’s easy to let students know that we are constantly available.
I’ve already used my experience as a mentor to get an internship in a school, so I’m sure it will help me in later life. But it’s also just great fun. I do a lot of work with younger students, helping out in the Junior School with French lessons, for example. I’m very close to the girls in my house. I love getting to know them in a deeper way, and it’s good to know that they have someone they can trust. All the girls in my house know I’m always there for them.
Words Léa Henaux
Photography Joe McGorty