New Found Friends: Tiger Pals making connections between high school, North Cedar

Megan Droste, previously the FCS and Peer Helpers teacher at Peet and one of the current CAPS teachers, has decided to take it upon herself to improve the Tiger Pals program and bring it back into business.

The interactive program allows high school students to act as a mentor and pay weekly visits to younger elementary school students.

“I was so excited to learn about the Tiger Pals program, and I did my own detective work to see what had been done in the past and how we can bring it back. My job for CAPS is all about ‘teaching about teaching,’ and what better way to have students learn the benefits of teaching than through a mentor program.”

The high school is currently partnering with North Cedar for Tiger Pals, but Droste plans on potentially sending students to other local elementaries as well. There are currently 5 students from the high school that are enrolled in the Tiger Pals program.

“This mentoring program is a great way to share, learn, grow and just have fun,” Droste said. “Tiger Pals program will be offered for high school students who can donate some of their time each week to spend time with an elementary or junior high student, and this mentoring program is so beneficial, not just for the Lil Pal, but for the Big Pal too.”

Heidi Guse, the school guidance counselor at North Cedar Elementary agreed that Tiger Pals is a great opportunity for students and said the program has done wonderful things for her students.

“Tiger Pals promotes healthy and positive relationships for kids, so our kids can see what that looks like and they have a role model. It helps promote self esteem and confidence for our kiddos, and it just exposes them to social appropriateness and having conversations and just communicating with someone who’s there to just have fun and support them. It gives them a time once a week where the it is all about them,” Guse said.

Guse added that the school has reaped many additional benefits from the program.                                          

“It’s increased attendance. It’s increased self esteem. I mean the kiddos are believing in themselves. Something as simple as playing Candy Land teaches the students how to take turns and be a good sport. It’s incredible.”

Junior Ellie Shimp partakes in the Tiger Pals program. She meets weekly with a second grade girl from North Cedar Elementary.

Shimp said her weekly meetings were oftentimes filled with coloring, board games and chatting.

“It’s a great thing to get involved in because you’re helping your community, but also you get to make a friendship with someone that you otherwise probably wouldn’t because they are so much younger than you,” Shimp said.

Senior Colin Klatt is another Tiger Pals student. He has been meeting with his third grade Tiger Pal since April of 2017.
“When I first met my Tiger Pal, I asked him how old he thought I was. After thinking for awhile he looked at me and said 37,” Klatt said.

Klatt said Tiger Pals is an important experience that students should take advantage of.             

“I decided to participate because growing up I saw how much of a difference an older mentor, like a highschool kid, could make in a younger kid’s life. People should join Tiger Pals because you never know how much of an impact you can make on others. Don’t hesitate to join. The feeling you get after spending time with your tiger pal is like no other feeling you will ever have.”
Tiger Pals plans to have its first meeting in the next coming weeks. Interested students should email Droste for an application at megan.droste@cfschools.org. Students have the option of being a Big Pal for both semesters or for fall or spring semester separately. Individuals can follow Tiger Pals on Twitter @CF_TigerPals to stay up to date.

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